Today marks the centenary of the death of Adele, Countess of Essex, who died on this day in 1922! The American Heiress who married the 7th Earl of Essex and was a vegetarian activist, the Countess owned an iconic Heirloom that was once loaned to Lady Churchill, the Romanian Crown Princess and Rihanna, which has now become an iconic part of the Cartier Collection: The Cartier Essex Tiara
Composed of 759 brilliant and 289 rose cut diamonds weighing around 156 carats, this Tiara was bought by the 7th Earl of Essex, ahead of of the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, with the diamonds supplied by the Earl. The design of the Tiara is reportedly inspired by a Malaysian headdress.
Despite being given this spectacular Tiara, Adele, Countess of Essex was never painted nor photographed in the piece, and after her death in 1922, it was inherited by her two daughters, who seem to have loaned the Tiara (though the details are not clear enough to be sure) to their sister-in-law, the then Countess of Essex, for the Coronation of King George VI in 1937. At the next Coronation in 1953, the Tiara was loaned to Clementine, Lady Churchill, wife of Prime Minsiter Sir Winston Churchill, said to be a friend of Adele, Countess of Essex, for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
It wasn’t until 1957 that the Cartier Essex Tiara was pictured on Viscountess Ingleby, the younger daughter of Adele, Countess of Essex, who wore the Tiara for a Gala, possibly for her daughter, Mary Rose Peake, and was photographed. Lady Ingleby’s daughter, the Hon. Iris Dawnay, was a lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.
In 1996, the Cartier Essex Tiara was loaned to Margareta, Custodian of the Crown of Romania for her Wedding in Switzerland in 1996. It is unknown if the Tiara still belonged to the family of Lady Ingleby, who passed away in 1979, or if it had been sold and belonged to a private collection, from where it was eventually bought by Cartier at some point after 2001.
The Cartier Essex Tiara was photographed on a model in the December 2001 issue of Vogue UK, before being famously worn by popstar Rihanna in the September 2016 issue of W Magazine, along with a few other Cartier Jewels.
These days, the Cartier Essex Tiara is on display at Cartier Exhibitions around the world, becoming an iconic symbol of Cartier's Belle Epoque Jewels. In 2004, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Cartier Holiday Bow tradition at the Cartier Mansion on Fifth Avenue, a massive replica of the Essex Tiara was placed above the building’s door, with the actual Tiara featuring in photos with Santa Claus.
A huge Thank You to the wonderful historyfamousjewels for their help!