Eternal wreath of flowers
Floral tiara with 16,76 ct diamonds in gold & silver, around 1890
Even in antiquity, young women wore floral wreaths – yet with the advance of Christianity, this 'pagan' custom gradually faded and got lost. It was only after the French Revolution that floral wreaths, especially those worn by brides, became socially acceptable again. The romantic custom transcended all ranks, reaching the highest levels of society: In 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, wearing a wreath of fragrant orange blossoms in her hair. In the years to follow, much jewellery in floral shapes was produced. Whether made of wax, porcelain or precious gemstones, floral jewels were not only reserved for brides, but meant to adorn women on all kinds of occasions. The tiara at hand seems like a floral wreath immortalised in diamonds, never wilting. Foliate scrolls wind around small blossoms and larger flowerheads from which drop-shaped dew drops seem to trickle. A staggering number of 493 diamond adorns the tiara, amounting to an overall weight of approximately 16.76 ct. At each turn and movement of its wearer, several of the tiara's diamonds catch the light at such an angle as to emit fire and brilliance. Its design and choice of materials allow us to date the tiara to circa 1890. The silver-on-gold technique, the use of old European cut and old mine cut diamonds, the so-called knife wires and the faintly oriental, Indian-inspired designs of the smaller blossoms are typical of the time. Whilst slightly later tiaras would usually follow a more sober neo-classical garland style, this late 19th century example is one of the last to be indebted to gloriously swirling shapes. At the time, tiaras were no longer only worn by noble women, but could be worn at festive events by all those whose wealth, confidence and taste allowed it. In the advent of artificial light, opulent diamond jewellery appeared more adequate than ever at evening events. The tiara is one of those rare pieces that truly manage to transport the splendour and romantic spirit of the Belle Époque into our day, being almost symptomatic of its time. We acquired the piece in the British Midlands region and it was more than likely once made in Britain. It is in excellent condition. Please see David Bennet/Daniela Mascetti: Understanding Jewellery, Woodbridge 2010, pp. 206 f. for similar pieces.
With the invention of gaslight and then electric light at the end of the 19th century, glistening brightness suddenly filled the ballrooms of Europe. No longer dark, yellow candlelight, but the white glow of hundreds of lamps made the ladies' jewellery shine and glitter as never before. No wonder that as a result of these developments, a new fashion also emerged: white jewels made of diamonds and silver responded to the new lighting conditions and replaced the previous more colourful designs. In general, jewellery was increasingly richly set with sparkling gems to create an ever more luxurious and rich appearance. At the great balls in Paris, London and St. Petersburg, ever more magnificent diamond necklaces were presented, as well as tiaras, brooches and rings, all dreams in white diamonds.
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You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.
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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.
If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.