Thursday, October 25, 2012

Luxarazzi 101: The Grand Duchess Adelaide Tiara

Princess Tessy arrived at the dinner gala after The Hereditary Grand Duke's civil wedding wearing a diamond and sapphire tiara. This was the first time that she has worn this historic family jewel.

The tiara is made of diamonds with a large central sapphire. The cushion-cute sapphire can be removed but no one appears to have worn the sapphire separately in decades. Both the diamonds and the pale blue sapphire are set in white and yellow gold. The tiara is often listed as one of several floral tiaras that the family possesses. However, there are no flowers on the tiara. There are only leaves and berries made of brilliant and rose-cut diamonds. Two loops on the base of the tiara allow an additional element to be attached.

Little is known about the history of the tiara. The jewel was created between 1865 and 1870 by an unknown (to me) jeweler. It may have been part of the trousseau of Grand Duke Adolphe's second wife Princess Adelheid-Marie of Anhalt-Dessau (m. 1851). She is the first woman of the family recorded to have worn or owned the tiara. Many of the loveliest tiaras owned by the family are either part of the trousseau of a foreign princess or are wedding gifts.

In any case, Grand Duchess Adelaide is the first lady of the family who wore this tiara. It is fitting that the finely crafted tiara became a favorite of her granddaughter and namesake, Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide. It is she that is most closely associated with the history of the tiara. During her brief and tragic reign it was this jewel that she decided to wear when she sat for photographs and paintings.

Later on the cold and foggy morning of January 28, 1919 Marie-Adelaide passed her jewels and finest possessions onto her sisters and her loyal lady-in-waiting. It is noted that she divided her jewelry among them based on who had made long forgotten compliments about different pieces, saving the tiara(s) for Charlotte. It was on this morning that Grand Duchess Charlotte likely took possession of this tiara. It was also the last day that Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide ever spent inside the Grand Duchy.

Grand Duchess Charlotte, Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa

While the tiara is known almost exclusively by some variant of the name 'Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide's Tiara' it could be better named the 'Grand Duchess Adelaide Tiara' given the history of the jewel. Thankfully, this tiara is now part of the family's jewelry trust and cannot be sold.

This is the first of a multi-part series on tiaras owned by the family beginning with those worn during the recent wedding events.

Photo: RTL, Cour grand-ducale


  1. Hello! I would like to suggest, that description of "floral" tiaras always speaks of flora, as in flora not fauna. In that context "flora" means any plant(Webster dictionary).
    I love your blog!

  2. Good idea.

    Thanks!! We appreciate knowing that you love the blog!

  3. I was browsing on wikipedia when I came across this painting of Princess Charlotte of Prussia by Philip de Laszlo and I was struck by how similar her tiara is to the Grand Duchess Adelaide Tiara. Maybe they were made by the same jeweller?

  4. I came across that painting a while ago too and was also struck how similar the tiaras looked. As I don't see an obvious inheritance connection, the tiaras being made by the same jeweller is probably the safest guess. I'm no expert about it but I guess that there were certain jewellers that were 'in' during certain periods of the 18th/19th/early 20th centuries just like there are famous design houses these days.

  5. Beautiful Tiaras....just gorgeous and so are the Norwoods and the Windsors... I love them all!