This month, we are marking the Bicentenary of the Birth of Queen Victoria by featuring her Top 20 Jewels, one for each decade since the Birth of 2nd-longest reigning British Monarch, in the 20 days leading up to the Anniversary itself, and today’s feature is her Emerald Tiara and Parure
The Tiara, featuring cushion-shaped diamonds, step-cut emeralds and 19 inverted pear-shaped emeralds, was designed by Prince Albert, along with the emerald necklace, earrings and brooch, and commissioned by jeweller Joseph Kitching for £1,150 before being presented to Queen Victoria in 1845, who wrote of a “lovely Diadem of diamonds and emeralds designed by my beloved Albert” and praised her husband’s “wonderful taste” in her journal.
Queen Victoria wore her Emerald and Diamond Tiara and Parure for a variety of occasions, including several portraits by the celebrated Franz Xavier Winterhalter between 1846 and 1859, as well as a State Visit to France in 1855.
In her widowhood, Queen Victoria loaned the Emerald Tiara to her granddaughter, Princess Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven (grandmother of the Duke of Edinburgh), for a costume ball in the 1880s, when it was worn around a velvet cap.
However, Queen Victoria’s Emerald and Diamond Tiara and Parure were given to her daughter, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, in June 1893, noted in her jewel inventory (found by the British Royal Jewels account on Instagram) which describes the Parure as:
A diamond and emerald diadem, designed by Prince Albert and set by Kitching in 1845
A large necklace, composed of square emeralds and diamond borders
A large brooch, with emerald and diamond border
A pair of earrings with long emerald drops
Princess Louise seems to have been depicted wearing the Parure for the Wedding of the Duke of York and Princess May of Teck in 1893, right after it had been gifted.
Princess Louise left the tiara to one of the daughters of Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife: Princess Alexandra, Duchess of Fife or Princess Maud, Countess of Southesk, and the Parure was last seen worn by the 3rd Duchess of Fife at the 1960 State Opening of Parliament, where you can see her with Duchess of Rutland (in the Rutland Tiara), the Duchess of Buccleuch (wearing the Buccleuch Turquoise Parure), the Marchioness of Cholmondeley (wearing the French Sapphire Parure) and the Countess of Waldegrave (in the Waldegrave Tiara).
Currently, the Emerald Tiara and Parure are on a long-term loan from the estate of the 3rd Duke of Fife at the Victoria Revealed Exhibition at Kensington Palace, which marks the 200th Anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, and the displays feature personal objects and an intimate account of her fascinating life and long reign, where you can go see it in person alongside the Fife Tiara and the Fife Fringe Tiara.
The Tiara is currently on display at ‘Power & Image: Royal & Aristocratic Tiaras’ at Sotheby’s in London