Autumnal Beauty

Victorian tiara & necklace with rubies & diamonds, circa 1890

This jewel seems to be dedicated to autumn - for it is composed of fine leaves on which diamonds shimmer like dewdrops. Deep red rubies are set between them. One is tempted to think of the red leaves of the chestnut trees in October, or of the red five-leaf maple. But the elements seem to be borrowed from yet another source of inspiration: The so-called Oriental Circlet Tiara, once designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria and realized in 1853 by the then court jeweler Garrard. Unlike the tiara designed in 1853, which was stronger and in keeping with the taste of the time, this tiara is lighter in design, with finer lines and so-called knife edges, on which individual diamonds and rubies seem to float. It is the style of the years around 1890 that is presented here, with its preference for delicate forms and richness of detail. Those years, the beginning of the Belle Époque, are known for their magnificence and the fine jewels that went with it. This was still the time when one could wear a tiara more often than just for one's own wedding: At balls and festive galas, these jewels adorned the heads not only of the nobility, but also of the wealthy bourgeoisie. And yet, when it came to particularly valuable investments, people liked to keep all their options open, and so many tiaras of the time could also be worn as necklaces, including this one. Since the original frame of the tiara was lost over the course of time, our goldsmiths have forged a matching one of silver onto which the garland of diamond leaves can be strung. Given the material preciousness of the tiara, the double function is quite understandable - and anyway, who wouldn't want to wear such a piece of jewellery as often as possible? Fifty-nine natural rubies form the highlights of the garland of leaves, with a total of twelve pearls and 240 diamonds set in rose and old cuts in between. Some of the diamonds seem to be even older than the jewel itself, judging by their cuts: Presumably they came from heirlooms and were re-set here. In later times, the entire piece of jewellery also received a coating of rhodium. Thus, the piece, originally crafted in silver on gold, now shines uniformly white. We were able to purchase the tiara in England, where it was probably once made. With the slender chain that allows it to be converted into a necklace, it has survived in a fitted antique case made by London jewellers Harman & Sons of New Bond Street. Even when this firm hawked the jewel in the early 20th century, it was several decades old. Whose head it was allowed to adorn towards the end of the 19th century and which grand balls it attended, this remains hidden in the darkness of history.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

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.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


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.