The glittering Diamond Tiara that has links with a British Countess and the matriarch of the famous Kennedy Family. The Chaumet Bessborough Tiara was worn for Official Portraits, a Coronation, and at a Court Presentation. It exemplifies the beautiful Art Deco tiaras made in the glittering years before WWII.
Made by the French Jeweller Chaumet in 1931, the Tiara is compsed of an Art Deco scroll motif in platinum and diamonds, and features a large marquise diamond in the centre alongside single and old-cut diamonds. The marquise-shaped diamond was offered to the Earl, in 1931, as a gift by the De Beers diamond company when he left his position of director.
The Tiara was made for Roberte, Countess of Bessborough, and was worn by her for Official Portraits in the early 1930s, taken during her husband’s tenure as Governor General of Canada. The Countess also wore it to the 1937 Coronation of King George VI.
The Countess of Bessborough famously lent the Tiara to her friend, Rose Kennedy, mother of President JFK, during the Kennedy’s tenure as U.S Ambassador to the UK in the late 1930s. Rose wore at her presentation at Court in 1938, which was a part of the debutante season. She later wrote in her autobiography;
As a matron I would wear a tiara in my hair. I didn’t own one. It had simply never occurred to me before coming to England that I would ever need one. My new and sympathetic friend Lady Bessborough lent me hers and it proved to be exactly right, most flattering and magnificent. (It fitted very well and had many brilliant diamonds including a gorgeous marquise diamond in the front. With a few temporary adjustments and arrangements it was perfect. I was so grateful to her for the thought. i remember my children- Bobby and Teddy as well as the girls- were extremely impressed.)’
The Countess of Bessborough continued to wear the Chaumet Bessborough Tiara at several events, including with Queen Mary, the Queen Mother, and also at the Coronation of Queen Elisabeth II in 1953. After her passing in 1979, the Tiara remained with the family but was exhibited at Chaumet quite a few times, most notably for Crowning Glories: Two centuries of Tiaras, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2000 and Dignity and Beauty: The Story of the Tiara at the Bunkamura Museum of Art in Tokyo, and the Nigata Bandaijima Museum of Art in Japan in 2007.
In 2023, the Chaumet Bessborough Tiara is being auctioned at Christie’s in Geneva with an estimate of CHF 800,000 – CHF 1,500,000.