Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Rubies for July: the Burmese Ruby Tiara

The Queen in the Burmese ruby tiara commissioned in 1973

There's seems to be something about rubies that makes the era of the pieces they belong to strikingly obvious. Queen Sofia's rubies (see more here) are about as Sixties as you can get, the Swedish Connaught tiara couldn't look more Edwardian if it tried (don't believe me then look here) and the Burmese Ruby Tiara belonging to Elizabeth II only needs one glance to tell you that it was made in the 1970s. Maybe it's the fiery red colour that focuses the eye more but these gems really paint a picture of the time their settings were created. The seventies theme of the Burmese Ruby Tiara takes us right back to a time in the historic reign of Elizabeth II when she was just marking the first of many major milestones.

The tiara was commissioned by the Queen in 1973, the year after she celebrated the 25th anniversary of her marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh. And this diadem owes its sparkle to some of Elizabeth II's wedding presents. The people of Burma gave the postwar bride 96 rubies. They believe the gem to protect against illness and evil and that there are 96 diseases that can affect the body so this was a very special present, filled with meaning.

Rubies need some diamonds and as she moved on from her Silver Wedding anniversary, the Queen took some of the sparklers from another marriage gift. Diamonds from the Nizam of Hyderabad set were handed to Garrards with the rubies for a whole new tiara to be created.

design is pure seventies. Whatever way you look at it, this tiara is of its time. It may start with a classic for diadem design, a floral arrangement, but then it veers straight off into flower power of a very 1970s kind. The central focus of the tiara is a rose design with the rubies at their centre and the outer petals made of diamonds. Just because it was the 1970s.

The roses are linked by sprays of diamonds flying upwards while underneath them are lines of rubies that sit between the flowers with more diamonds underneath each bloom. It is a big tiara but then it was made for a Monarch so it had to impress. The effect is unmissable - this is sparkle and then some.

The Queen has worn it regularly since it arrived at Buckingham Palace which isn't that surprising as it's an undeniably regal piece and highly symbolic given the origin of the jewels it contains. And it just goes to show that when it comes to rubies, time and era has a huge influence on the piece that ends up in a royal collection.

You can read more about Rubies for July here.

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