Those of us hoping to see a parade of dazzling diamond tiaras for the coronation of King Charles III were left sorely disappointed. The Palace set a ‘daytime formal’ dress code for the event, so aristocratic attendees wore hats and fascinators rather than their finest head-toppers. The Princess of Wales reached for a beautiful floral headpiece crafted by milliner Jess Collett for Alexander McQueen, with Princess Charlotte wearing a miniature version.
But it seems that nobody warned the nation’s jewellers, many of whom created new tiaras in celebration of this majestic moment. The silver lining? Brides-to-be are spoiled with a multitude of tiaras with which to crown their wedding day outfit. Because nobody can deny a woman’s right to play princess on her big day.
Tradition dictates that only married women should wear tiaras, so generations of aristocratic women have seized their first chance by raiding the family jewellery vault for their wedding day. The royal family still follows this protocol: the Princess of Wales, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie and the Duchess of Sussex all borrowed tiaras from the late Queen’s collection. Some brides are still fortunate enough to be able to reach for an heirloom, but you needn’t be blue-blooded to wear one on your wedding day.
“A tiara is no longer the exclusive domain of Princesses and heiresses. We’ve seen a significant rise in interest in tiaras over the last few years, and people wear them for all sorts of reasons, including weddings, dinners, and just for fun,” says Guy Burton, Managing Director of Hancocks, the Burlington Arcade-based antique jewellery specialist. “Part of the desirability is the feeling of tradition and history that a tiara brings. It’s a significant jewel, and often a significant investment, and carries a certain gravitas.”
In the early 20th century, the coronations of Kings George V and George VI sparked a rush of tiara orders. But as the opportunities to wear them became fewer and farther between, many tiaras were reset into more wearable jewels, or had their diamonds doled out as inheritance. It wasn’t unusual for tiaras to be literally snapped into pieces and shared. So to find a high-quality antique tiara still intact is a rare feat.
Hancocks, Pragnell, Bentley & Skinner and Susannah Lovis all offer pieces from the Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco eras for brides who want to bring bygone elegance to their wedding day. Many of these tiaras convert into necklaces. “If a bride is considering how much wear she’ll get out of her wedding tiara, then a convertible piece offers her more opportunities to enjoy such a special and sentimental item,” says Guy Burton.
Newly created tiaras carry the same stately magnificence, but are crafted with lightness, comfort and wearability in mind. “Almost all of our tiaras are created for weddings – it’s a very classic and aristocratic look,” says Michael Wainwright, Managing Director at Boodles. “Some brides opt for a tiara if their dress has a high neckline as it makes more sense than a necklace. It’s your day so you should do and wear what you want.”
But can a tiara ever be cool? Parisian house Chaumet is a specialist on the subject, having created thousands of tiaras over its 243-year history. Its modern designs include towering crescendos of diamond-set waves, alongside delicate, minimalist diamond headpieces that could just as easily be worn with jeans. And contemporary designers such as Ole Lynggaard are breathing new life into the tradition with unconventional gold and diamond headpieces that cater for modern brides.
Budget is no longer a barrier to wearing a tiara, either. Bentley & Skinner offers the option to rent its jewellery, including tiaras, at a cost of 1% of the retail value (plus VAT) per day. And in June Garrard will launch its Something Borrowed service, allowing brides to rent jewellery including a modern or antique tiara for their big day. The rental fee for tiaras starts from £2,500 and can be redeemed against Garrard jewellery until your first anniversary. As the rental economy gathers pace, expect other jewellery houses to follow suit.
From historic treasures to contemporary twists on a classic, scroll down to see the finest tiaras for your big day.
Yellow diamonds sourced from the famed Cullinan Mine add a pop of colour to this contemporary, celestial-inspired design.
18kt white gold, white and yellow diamond tiara, price on request, Boodles.
A delicate, minimalistic diamond headpiece for the bride who doesn’t ‘do’ tiaras.
18kt white gold and diamond Liens Inséparables head ornament, price on request, Chaumet.
Bentley & Skinner
Rent or buy this Belle Époque beauty, featuring over 50 carats of antique diamonds set in romantic floral clusters.
Platinum and diamond Belle Époque tiara, c.1910, £185,000, Bentley & Skinner.
According to the note inside the case, this magnificent Victorian tiara was a gift to a bride from her parents in 1910. It converts to a flattering bib-style necklace – that’s your evening look sorted.
Gold, silver and old-cut diamond Victorian Scroll tiara, £45,000, Hancocks.
The playful Miss Daisy tiara combines whimsical florals with another timeless bridal staple: pearls.
18kt white gold, diamond and Akoya pearl Miss Daisy tiara, price on request, David Morris.
The wing-like features of this tiara were inspired by the audacious ‘dove’ tiara designed by Philip Antrobus, creator of Queen Elizabeth II’s engagement ring.
18kt white gold and diamond Antrobus Dove tiara, price on request, Pragnell.
Diamonds are set into frills of pink and white gold in this airy, lace-inspired headpiece, designed to be worn low on the head.
18kt white and pink gold and diamond Dior Dior Dior head ornament, price on request, Dior Joaillerie.
A future heirloom, this elegant Edwardian tiara makes an impact without stealing the limelight.
Gold, silver and old-cut diamond Edwardian Foliate Scroll tiara, £34,950, Susannah Lovis.
Camilla, Queen Consort, often wears a Boucheron tiara. Follow suit with this imposing modern take on a kokoshnik.
18kt white gold and diamond Serpent Bohème tiara, £133,000, Boucheron.
This pearl-topped piece is proof that you needn’t break the bank to feel like royalty on your wedding day.
18kt white gold, pearl and diamond Villa Ariadne tiara, £8,400, Cassandra Goad.
Tiaras don’t have to be traditional: this whimsical Wild Rose design is perfect for the bohemian bride.
18kt yellow gold and diamond Wild Rose tiara, £16,700, Ole Lynggaard.
The late Queen Elizabeth II reached for her grandmother’s Garrard tiara on her wedding day. The house’s aquamarine and diamond design is the perfect ‘something blue’.
18kt white gold, diamond and aquamarine Catherine tiara, £85,000, Garrard.
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