Thursday, March 14, 2013

Focus on... Camilla's Jewels: The Keppel Ruby and Diamond Tiara

The Keppel Tiara is a family heirloom that belongs personally to the Duchess of Cornwall.
The Keppel Tiara/Necklace
It was originally a gift from Edward VII to his most famous favourite, Alice Keppel – Camilla’s great-grandmother. Alice received many gifts of jewellery from the King, most of which were inherited by her younger daughter Sonia (later, Baroness Ashcombe). 

The tiara is made of gold and platinum set with diamonds and synthetic rubies. The choice of synthetic and not real rubies may be explained by the fact that synthetic tones were relatively new at the time and were in high demand. The tiara can be converted into a necklace, and the only known occasion of Camilla wearing this piece is in that form.
Alice Keppel, the great-grandmother of the Duchess of Cornwall; she died just two months after Camilla's birth
Edward VII purchased the tiara in Paris in early 1900s. The choice of stones is not accidental either; in the language of precious stones, the combination of rubies and diamonds means enduring love. The design of the tiara is probably based on an 18th century French hair ornament. IT appears to have been a popular design at the time for FabergĂ© created a very similar (almost identical) looking piece at about the same time as this one. 

Some of Alice’s jewels, like this tiara, remain the family. Others were sold off over the years. It is said that Prince Charles tracked down and bought some of those pieces for Camilla. Unlike the Cubbit-Shand Tiara, which is most likely in the possession of Camilla’s brother and is loaned to her (and other members of the family) when needed, this piece is almost certainly the Duchess’s. 
The Duchess of Cornwall wearing the tiara as a necklace
I’d really love to see this jewel worn again as a tiara, not least because I find it slightly difficult to envision how it actually sits on the head. Unfortunately, since the Duchess now has access to much more impressive pieces, this tiara is left to accumulate dust until better times.

Remember, this whole week is dedicated to the Duchess of Cornwall’s jewellery collection. You can always check out jewels already covered here.

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