Last week, it was revealed that several Jewels from the Estate of the late Countess of Paris are going on Auction in Paris, the highlight of which is the Orléans Diamond Comb, the versatile two-centuries old Heirloom from the Princess of Joinville which was one of the last remaining Orléans Heirlooms.
Representing three feathers joined in the centre by a sizeable diamond, this petite Diamond Tiara or Comb originally belonged to Princess Françoise of Braganza, Princess of Joinville, who was the daughter-in-law of French King Louis Philippe. Upon her death in 1898, it was inherited by her only daughter, Princess Françoise, Duchess of Chartres.
When the Duchess of Chartres passed away in 1925, she left an important lot of jewels from her personal collection directly to her grandson, Prince Henri, the future Head of the French Royal House. Those historic family pieces, Comb included, were meant for Henri’s future wife. When the Prince married Princess Isabelle of Orleans Braganza a few years later, the new Dauphine de France gained access to that splendid collection. While some of those jewels were redesigned into more modern and wearable pieces, others were kept intact.
It seems that Madame, the Countess of Paris, was never publicly photographed wearing the Diamond Comb. Nevertheless, due to its petite size, she seemed to find it a quite suitable headpiece for young Princesses. For this reason, all her daughters, the Filles de France, wore it often during her youth. Fourteen-year-old Princess Chantal of Orleans wore it during the Wedding Ball of her elder sister, Princess Diane, to Duke Carl of Wurttemberg in 1960.
Two years later, Princess Anne wore the Diamond Comb for one of the Wedding Balls of Prince Juan Carlos and Princess Sophia of Greece at the Royal Palace of Athens, followed by a Party on ‘Cape St. Vincent’ in Athens.
In 1964, the Count and Countess of Paris’ eldest daughter, Princess Isabelle, wore the Diamond Comb Tiara for a very special day in her life: her Wedding to Austrian-born Count Frédéric-Charles of Schönborn Buchheim at the Royal Chapel of Dreux.
One year later, the Diamond Comb served again as a bridal tiara, as it was worn by Princess Anne of Orleans when she married Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Duke of Calabria and later Infante of Spain by grace, at the Royal Chapel of Dreux.
After the Countess of Paris’s death in 2003, her jewel collection was split between her 10 surviving children and one grandchild. The Diamond Comb Tiara was among the few heirlooms inherited by her eldest son, Prince Henri, then Head of the Royal House of France. The piece would appear in public again in 2009, adorning the neck of his second wife, Doña Micaela Cousiño y Quiñones de León, on the day of their religious marriage.
On that occasion, one could observe that the Diamond Comb hah been shortened in half, the central diamond had been replaced by a green tourmaline, and it had been permanently turned into a brooch/pendant.
Two years later, the Countess of Paris wore the new version of the Diamond Comb for the Wedding Ball of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco in 2011.
It seems that the Princess retained the property of the Diamond Comb after the passing of her husband, Prince Henri, in 2019. After Doña Micaela’s recent passing in 2022, her heirs are now auctioning in September 15 in Paris through Millon Auction House an important collection of “souvenirs” of the late Princess. The Diamond Comb, estimated to sell for between €3,000 – €5,000, is described as an:
“element of XIX century tiara made in silver and rose gold, entirely set with old, round, pear and cushion-cut diamonds, centred with a cabochon tourmaline in closed setting with a back pin in white gold. Stored in a Boucheron case”
This article was written by assistant editor, David Rato, who runs the Spanish Royal Jewels account on Instagram!