Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Pearls for June: the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara

The Duchess of Cambridge in the Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara in December 2015
(photo ITV still)

It was her big surprise of 2015. The Duchess of Cambridge had just got everyone thinking she was a two tiara kind of girl when she showed up at the diplomatic reception just before Christmas last year wearing a very famous diadem indeed. And while there are plenty of sparkles in this tiara, it's best known for the creamy pearls that dominate its shape and frame. No wonder Kate of Cambridge chose the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara for her big night out.

Diana, Princess of Wales wearing  the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara

The tiara is one of the best known in the royal jewellery box but hasn't been seen in public for quite a while. It was very familiar through the 1980s and 1990s as it was worn regularly by Diana, Princess of Wales - she was given the diadem on her marriage by the Queen. And then suddenly, there was Kate in the tiara.

It gets its name from the shape that some of the diamonds have been set into. The lover's knots run along the top of the tiara, between inverted arches of diamonds. There is also a row of round sparklers at the base of the tiara and more brilliant gems perched on the top - and then we get to the pearls. There are nineteen of them, gathered up from different sources, and suspended from diamond clips from the sparkling lover's knots themselves. It is pretty, traditional and very impressive.

As Duchess of Cambridge it seems appropriate that Kate has worn this piece that bears the city's name and which was inspired by the tiara created for Augusta of Hesse-Kassel when she married Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge in 1818 and began the dynasty that would lead that line to the throne of England.

Augusta's granddaughter became Queen Mary and when she decided she needed a new tiara, as you do, in 1913 she looked for ideas in her family scrap book and commissioned a version of the Lover's Knot tiara worn by Augusta from Garrards. It became known as the Cambridge Lover's Knot and when Queen Mary died she left it to her own granddaughter, the Queen, who has been its custodian ever since.

Queen Mary in the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara

Queen Mary's original was very like granny's with an extra row of pearls on top but in its best known modern version, worn by Diana with such regularity and now by Kate, that has gone and the tiara is all the better for it. The pearls are so stunning they don't really need the competition on top. This is a perfect combination of diamonds and pearls.

There were some who questioned whether it was too soon for Kate to be seen in a tiara so assoicated with Diana but it was generally a popular choice and now seems rather obvious as a diadem for the duchess. Now it's back in royal circulation, we can expect to enjoy many more looks at these pearls.

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