Friday, August 2, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Emerald Art Deco Tiara

While the exact provenance of many of the tiaras of the Grand Ducal collection are somewhat unclear, the history of today's bling is quite well documented (at least for Grand Ducal standards): We're in the year 1926 - Germany and the Soviet Union sign the Treaty of Berlin, Roald Amundsen flies over the North Pole, and Prince Felix of Luxembourg doesn't know what to get his wife for Christmas and thus sends a bunch of old jewels to French jeweller Chaumet so that they can create something new out of it.

Admittedly, I don't know whether the story went exactly that way, it, however, includes a few key facts about Luxembourg's Emerald Art Deco Tiara, one of the most famous pieces of the Grand Ducal Family's tiara collection.
Pieces given to Chaumet to create a new tiara (Photos: Maison Chaumet)
Made of a large central cabochon emerald and diamonds set in platinum, this tiara was created by Chaumet in the year 1926. Alongside a few old pieces of jewellery such as a pair of earrings, a necklace, a brooch and more, a large egg-shaped emerald and a rather large diamond were sent from Luxembourg to the Paris headquarters of the jeweller. Whether the pieces originally belonged to the Grand Ducal Family or the Bourbon-Parma's, the family of Grand Duchess Charlotte's husband, and might have been wedding gifts to Luxembourg's head of state, remains unclear.

Inspired by the Greek tiaras of the antiquity, Chaumet created a typical tiara of the Art Deco period that was fully underway during the 1920's. While from afar the tiara looks like a very solid piece, up close a variation of geometric motifs are clearly recognisable. The two most prominent features are the cabochon emerald and a large diamond set directly beneath it, though the latter one often gets lost in its overall design. While its height measures at 5.5 centimetres (2.2 inches), it has a diameter of 15.5 centimetres or 6.1 inches.
Grand Duchess Charlotte (with Prince Felix),
Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa
The newly created tiara arrived in Luxembourg on 22 December 1926 and was delivered to Prince Felix. As he was the initial recipient, it's not too far fetched to think that the tiara may have indeed found its way under the Christmas tree a few days later to the delight of the prince's wife, Grand Duchess Charlotte.

In the following years it became one of Charlotte's favourite tiaras; for official portraits she usually alternated it with the Empire Tiara while ditching the Grand Duchess Adelaide Tiara she had often worn during the early years of her reign. After Charlotte's abdication, the tiara found its way into the hands of Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte who wore it on a number of occasions during her husband's reign though she seems to have always preferred the Empire or her own tiaras.

By contrast Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa seems to have found a big liking in the tiara that is famously hard to wear due to its Super Woman-esque shape. Especially during the early years of Grand Duke Henri's reign, this tiara made many appearances of his wife's head, while we have seen a bit more variation as of late.

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