Today marks the 110th Anniversary of the Birth of the infamous Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, who was born on this day in 1912! The glamorous Heiress who married & divorced an American Golfer before becoming a Duchess and being the victim of a notorious divorce case, the Duchess had an amazing jewellery collection, so we are featuring her Cartier Diamond Shamrock Tiara!
Composed of five Diamond Shamrocks set on a Diamond Coronet, this Tiara was likely created by Cartier in the early 20th century, and acquired by the newlywed Duchess of Argyll around 1951, when she became the third wife of the 11th Duke of Argyll. The Cartier provenance is not confirmed, but the portrait of the Duchess wearing the Tiara is in a Cartier book I was given, though there is no caption, which leads to the logical conclusion that the Tiara was made by Cartier. There is also little doubt that the Tiara was purchased by the Duchess herself, as the Jewels of Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll were inherited by the Kents, while the current Dowager Duchess of Argyll has a Tiara from her own family.
The most prominent appearance of the Duchess of Argyll in her Cartier Diamond Shamrock Tiara came at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, during which the glamorous Duchess sat in the front row of the Peeresses and was frequently filmed or photographed. There were also numerous portraits taken after the Ceremony, and the Tiara has also been worn for the Coronation Gala at Covent Garden.
The Duchess was also painted wearing the Tiara in a portrait by Sir Herbert James Gunn, the same one I have in my Cartier Book, which I was given to me in Tokyo Airport a few years ago, so all the text is in Japanese.
During the 1950s, the Duchess of Argyll was frequently pictured wearing her Cartier Diamond Shamrock Tiara in numerous portraits and galas, including the Coming-Out Ball for Lindy Guinness, later Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, in 1958.
The Tiara was among the jewels that the Duchess retained after her notorious divorce from the Duke, after he broke into her cupboard and found incriminating photographs of her with various men, including with a famous ‘Headless Man’ whose identity continues to be unknown. Now styled as ‘Margaret, Duchess of Argyll’, she suffered from negative press and lost much of her fortune but remained a figure at society events, like a Ball at Belvoir Castle, the seat of her son-in-law, the Duke of Rutland, in 1965, when the Tiara was paired with her Art Deco Diamond and Ruby Brooch.
The current location of the Tiara is unknown but the Duchess suffered a robbery in 1970 and financial difficulties in the 1970s and 80s, which may mean that it was sold, though it may also belong to her daughter, the Dowager Duchess of Rutland, though some pieces, like her Art Deco Diamond and Ruby Brooch, have returned into the Cartier Collection!