Monday, June 16, 2014

Mastery of Design: Delhi Durbar Tiara, 1911

The Delhi Durbar Tiara
Made for H.M. Queen Mary
Garrard & Co., 1911
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection 
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Mary had decided that she and King George V needed different crowns when named Emperor and Empress of India than those they’d worn for their 1911 coronation.  She was told that the expense seemed unnecessary.  Her Majesty, then, went to her friends and asked them nicely to donate the diamonds and gemstones which were needed for these crowns.  She went back to the advisors and told them that the only cost would be the manufacture of the crowns, and, she got her way.

She also got a nice tiara out of the deal.  This tiara was made by Garrard & Co. in 1911 for the December 12 Delhi Durbar.  The tiara was constructed so that it could be hung with the Cambridge Emeralds or with pearls should the Queen desire.  Therefore, the piece is considered part of  the Queen’s parure of emeralds and diamonds which also included a necklace, stomacher, brooch and earrings.

The tiara a designed as a tall circlet of lyres and S-scrolls which are linked by festoons of rose-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds.
  In 1912, the tiara was altered so that it could accommodate both of the two Lesser Stars of Africa – Cullinan III and IV.

Queen Mary lent the tiara to Queen Elizabeth in 1946 so that the Queen Mother could wear it during the 1947 South African Tour.  Following Queen Mary’s 1953 death, the Queen Mother kept the Durbar tiara in her own collection until her death in 2002. In 2005, it was lent by Queen Elizabeth II to The Duchess of Cornwall, wife of Prince Charles.

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