Happy Birthday to Tuanku Zara Salim, the Raja Permaisuri (Queen) of Perak, who celebrates her 50th Birthday today! The accomplished chemical engineer who is the popular and hardworking consort of one of the oldest Malay Sultanates, Queen Zara Salim has worn several heirloom jewels, the most spectacular of which is the Perak Diamond Tiara!
Composed of 312 diamonds set in platinum, this Diamond Tiara was commissioned by the Perak Royal Family from a Jeweller in Hong Kong in the 1960s, not long after the Independence of Malaysia. The Tiara was bought at the cost of $23,000, and is a part of the Crown Jewels and Regalia of Perak.
The Perak Diamond Tiara first began to appear in the 1980s, on Tuanku Bainun, the Raja Permaisuri of Perak, who wore the piece for her husband’s Coronation as Sultan of Perak in 1985 at the Istana Iskandariah in Kuala Kangsar, and continued to wear the Tiara for various Banquets, Investitures, and Portraits.
When the Sultan served as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, King of Malaysia, between 1989 and 1994, Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Bainun, primarily wore the Gandik Diraja Tiara, though the Perak Diamond Tiara continued to be worn for lesser Banquets, like during the Malaysian State Visit to Britain in 1993.
After the end of their term, Raja Permaisuri Tuanku Bainun continued to wear the Perak Diamond Tiara, which had again become her primary tiara, for several Openings of Parliament, Banquets, Weddings, and Portraits with notable appearances of the Tiara at Installation Banquets for the newly appointed Yang di-Pertuan Agong, at the Wedding of Crown Prince of Brunei in 2004, and the Openings of the Perak Legislative Assembly, up until the end of her tenure in 2014.
After the death of Sultan Azlan Shah in 2014, he was succeeded by his son, Sultan Nazrin Shah, and the Perak Diamond Tiara passed into the possession of Raja Permaisuri Zara Salim, who first wore the piece for her husband’s lavish Coronation Ceremony in 2015, when the Sultan placed a pin behind the Tiara during the rituals.
Unlike her mother-in-law, Raja Permaisuri Zara Salim has reserved the Perak Diamond Tiara for only the most important occasions, usually portraits and the Ceremonies to mark the Opening of the Perak Legislative Assembly as well as the Coronation of the Sultan of Kedah, though she prefers another Diamond Tiara for most other Royal Occasions.
More recently, Raja Permaisuri Zara Salim has worn the Perak Diamond Tiara for the Installation of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia in 2019, as well as for the Ceremonies to mark the Opening of the Perak Legislative Assembly, and Investitures to celebrate the Sultan’s Birthday. There is no doubt we will continue to see this spectacular heirloom for years to come!