Hesse Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara

Today marks the 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Grand Duchess Eleonore of Hesse, who was born on this day in 1871! The Solms-Hohensolms-Lich who became the last Grand Duchess of a line that went as far back as 1264, Grand Duchess Eleonore certainly possessed some magnificent jewels, among the most well-known of which is the striking Hesse Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara!

The Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara | The Hesse Star Tiara

But first, lets learn about Grand Duchess Eleonore of Hesse! The fourth child and second daughter of Prince Hermann of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich and Countess Agnes of Stolberg-Wernigerode, Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, nicknamed ‘Onor’ grew up at Schloss Lich, the seat of her Family. In 1905, she married Grand Duke Ernest Louis of Hesse and by Rhine, a few years after his divorce from Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Her sister-in-laws included Victoria, Marchioness of Milford HavenTsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, with numerous Royal Relations on Thrones around Europe. The couple had two sons, Hereditary Grand Duke Georg Donatus and Prince Louis, and after the turmoil of the First World War and the abolition of the Monarchy, the family was able to retain numerous Castles and Palaces and received a significant settlement, basing themselves at the magnificent Schloss Wolfsgarten, where Grand Duke Ernest passed away in 1937. A few weeks later, Grand Duchess Eleonore joined her elder son and his family on a plane to go to London for the wedding of her younger son, which crashed in London, killing everyone on board. Grand Duchess Eleonore is buried in the Hesse Family Mausoleum at Rosenhöhe in Darmstadt.

A striking Art Nouveau creation designed as geometric ‘ribbons’ of turquoises and moonstones wrapped around the diamond and platinum kokoshnik frame, the Tiara, recorded as ‘firmamentstein’ in the Grand Duchess’ inventory was created in Russia likely from Bolin or Faberge in 1905. While she received heirloom pieces like the Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara and the Hesse Star Tiar, Grand Duchess Eleonore also got a few new pieces throughout her marriage, with this striking Art Nuveau piece standing out among the medieval Tiara and an Art Deco Bandeau. Grand Duke Ernst’s sister was the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia and the Hesse Royal Family had turned to Russian Jewellers for personal gifts for many years, and the Kokoshnik design reflects that relationship.

Grand Duke Ernst presented the Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara to Grand Duchess Eleonore on Christmas Eve in 1905, their first Christmas after their Wedding. Notably worn for a portrait by the artist, Hanns Pellar, a friend of the Grand Duke, in 1911, the Tiara remained in Grand Duchess Eleonore’s collection after the end of the monarchy in 1918, and was also not among the jewels, like the Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara and the Hesse Star Tiara, passed to her elder daughter-in-law, Hereditary Grand Duchess Cecilie, and was instead intended for the wife of her younger son, Prince Ludwig.

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In late 1937, just a few weeks after the death of Grand-Duke Ernst, Grand Duchess Eleonore joined the new Grand Duke and Grand Duchess and their two sons as they boarded a plane to London for the the wedding of her son, Prince Louis, to the Hon. Margaret Geddes, daughter of the 1st Baron Geddes. When the heavily pregnant Grand Duchess Cecilie apparently went into labour during the flight, the plane crashed into a factory chimney while trying to land in dense fog in Belgium, with  all those on board passing away. The Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara had been packed to be given as a Wedding Gift and it, along with the Strawberry Leaf Tiara survived in a strongbox, which was claimed, along with the bodies, by the hastily married Prince Louis and Princess Margaret a few days later.

Prince Louis became the next Head of the House of Hesse and by Rhine, taking the title of the Prince of Hesse and by Rhine, and while there are no public pictures, Princess Margaret often wore the Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara at a variety of royal events over the years. The childless couple adopted his distant cousin, Prince Moritz, the Landgrave of Hesse, as their Heir and were also very close to the British Royal Family, with Princess Margaret last being recorded wearing the Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara at the Queen’s 60th Birthday Ball at Buckingham Palace in 1986.

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After the death of Princess Margaret in 1997, the Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara and the Hesse Star Tiara, went to the “Hessische Hausstiftung”, the Foundation of the House of Hesse, but as her personal property, she left the Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara to her nephew, the 3rd Baron Geddes, who is the current deputy speaker of the House of Lords. Unlike many other aristocratic Tiaras that don’t get worn for decades, we are sure to see the Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara worn by the current Baroness Geddes at the annual State Opening of Parliament, being photographed at the State Openings in 2013 and 2016. Christa D’Souza wrote in Vogue about:

the turquoise and moonstone one (Tiara) that I later spot on Lady Geddes during cocktails at the River Room, attached – how sweet is this – by a little ribbon at the back.”

In addition to it being worn, the Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara was also exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2002, so there is no doubt we will continue to see this splendid Royal Heirloom for years to come!

The Hesse Strawberry Leaf Tiara | The Hesse Star Tiara



One thought on “Hesse Turquoise and Moonstone Tiara

  1. I love everything about this tiara! The choice of stones, its history, and its Art Deco style make it quite unique among more elaborate and fancier tiaras. I do hope we’ll get to see it again very soon!

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