Monday, May 8, 2017

Luxarazzi 101: Grand Duchess Hilda's Diamond Tiara

Photo: Badisches Landesmuseum
Unfortunate news coming out of Germany today: A tiara that once belonged to Grand Duchess Hilda of Baden was stolen from a museum in Karlsruhe. The tiara, which has an estimated value of 1.2 million euros, has been missing since April 29. Police is asking for your help in case you have been around the Badisches Landesmuseum that day or the days prior and have seen anything suspicious. (More here.) 

Why we cover these news on Luxarazzi? The diamond tiara's owner Grand Duchess Hilda was the daughter of Grand Duke Adolph of Luxembourg and sister to Grand Duke Wilhelm IV. While definetely a Princess of Nassau, whether she was a Princess of Luxembourg herself, would be up for debate as she was already married at the time her father inherited the Grand Duchy's throne. (To read more about Hilda, please have a look at this previous edition of Luxarazzi 101.)

The tiara, which has been exhibited at the state museum of Baden in Karlsruhe for several decades until it was stolen late last month, features no less than 367 diamonds set à jour in gold and platinum. Made in the popular kokoshnik-shape, the tiara features three circles of varying designs at the bottom and one on the top, interspersed with two rows of diamond garlands inbetween. To give the tiara a more sparkling effect, there are eleven diamond drops set in the loops of the garland.

The diamond tiara was created around the year 1907 by Schmidt-Staub, a jewellery house based in Pforzheim, likely to mark the accession of Hilda's husband Friedrich to the throne of the Grand Duchy of Baden. She wore it many times to official functions both before and after the end of the monarchy in Germany following World War I.

Unfortunately, Hilda and Friedrich weren't to have children of their own. However, Grand Duchess Hilda had always been close to her Luxembourgish nieces, the daughters of her brother Wilhelm. Before her death, she decided to give her personal jewels to her nieces. While Grand Duchess Charlotte also received a tiara, this particular piece was given to Crown Princess Antonia of Bavaria, Charlotte's younger sister. Sadly, Antonia only survived her aunt by two years dying in 1954. Still, the tiara was seen once more in public when it was worn by Princess Editha of Bavaria, Antonia's daughter, for the wedding celebrations of her cousin Countess Helene of Toerring-Jettenbach.

While the tiara first came up for auction in 1973, it was in 1984 when the government of the German state of Baden-Württemberg purchased the tiara once belonging to Grand Duchess Hilda to exhibit it at the state museum. Let's hope that it will be found soon!

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