Greville tiara: Queen Mother’s favourite diadem given to Camilla Duchess of Cornwall

The Greville tiara is a magnificent piece, left to the Queen Mother in 1942 by the Hon. Mrs Greville. It became one of her favourites, and she wore it often during her lifetime.

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Now the large diadem is seen on Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, as it is one of three loaned to her by the Queen.

The piece came in to the Royal Family after Mrs Greville died with no children in 1942, and her jewellery collection was left to the Queen Mother.

She had been a close friend of both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, throughout her life. The Queen Mother even spent her honeymoon in Mrs Greville’s stately home, Polesden Lacey.

Her Majesty then inherited all of Mrs Greville’s jewellery herself when her mother died in 2002, but she has never worn the Greville tiara in public.

Instead, it is closely associated with the Duchess of Cornwall, who was given it on longterm loan after her marriage to Prince Charles in 2005.

A diamond and platinum design, this was made in Paris in 1921 by Lucien Hirtz, chief designer for Boucheron at the time.

Mrs Greville had an older Boucheron tiara from her collection broken up and used the diamonds from this.

Extremely intricate, the honeycomb portions each have pavé-set diamonds, with round-set diamonds within.

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The millegrain setting – where the metal looks like tiny grains – is a design trick used to make the stones appear even more sparkly.

The Queen Mother did make some alterations to the piece. When she received it, there were no raised sections, and instead rows of five graduated diamonds were situated between the honeycombs at the top of the tiara, giving the piece a more kokoshnik-like shape. Some of the original diamond settings can be seen on each side of the tiara.

In 1953, the Queen Mother asked Cartier to reconfigure the five diamond sections right at the top centre.

The original diamonds were shifted from a graduated line to a more triangular shape. Five diamonds were then added to the piece – four round brilliants, taken from a dismantled brooch, and a single marquise diamond seen at the tiara’s apex.

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The original millegrain technique was not replicated, meaning the additions can be picked out on close inspection.

Alexandra Michell, Gemologist Prestige Pawnbrokers of Channel 4’s Posh Pawn, said of the Greville tiara: “This exceptional diadem was created by Boucheron, the Parisian luxury jewellery house in 1921 and it is no surprise that it became one of The Queen Mother’s favourite pieces.

“Camilla is often seen wearing the piece to important occasions and it is reported to be one of her favourite pieces to wear albeit it remains in the Royal collection and is on ‘long term loan’ to the Duchess. Interestingly, Camilla’s grandmother, Sonia Keppel, was Dame Margaret Greville’s goddaughter.

“A difficult piece to put a value but set in platinum with its numerous stunning diamonds and given the fact it is a Boucheron piece, I would estimate it to be in the region of £2 – 3 million.”

How many tiaras are there in the royal collection?

There are dozens of priceless tiaras owned by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family. Many of the British aristocracy also own tiaras, wearing them at state banquets and on wedding days.

As well as tiaras currently in existence, there are a couple which have been dismantled to make other diadems. This includes The Surrey Fringe and The Nizam of Hyderabad.

Some tiaras have formed part of iconic moments in the history of the Royal Family. The Cartier Halo for instance, was worn by Kate Middleton on her wedding day to Prince William in 2011.

Similarly, the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau was admired around the world thanks to it being the choice of Meghan Markle for her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018.

And it is the Lover’s Knot that is most often seen today, as it is a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge. It was closely associated with Diana, Princess of Wales during her marriage to Prince Charles, so holds special significance for Kate.

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