You’re invited to the royal coronation: Where do you get your tiara?
Your embossed invitation from Smythson stationery is certainly in the mail, so it’s time to think like Catherine, Princess of Wales and plan your outfit for the coronation of King Charles III on May 6. That means finding a tiara, unless your family has a stash and trusts you for a loaner (Meghan, Duchess of Sussex take note).
With weeks to spare, French jeweller Chaumet has opened its third Australian boutique in Sydney, a flagship complete with a wall of ‘try before you buy’ tiaras. The correct fit is important, with the Torsade de Chaumet tiara in white gold set with diamonds, worn by model Rosie Tupper, leaving a $1,127,405-sized hole in your savings or trust fund.
Model Rosie Tupper wearing a tiara by French jeweller Chaumet at its new Sydney store.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer
“Year after year we sell more tiaras than we used to,” says Jean-Marc Mansvelt, chief executive of Chaumet. “Surprisingly 2021 was a record year. People see them as an investment. In many countries, it is the ultimate symbol for weddings, with parents buying them for their daughters.”
“It is a symbol of the coronation of love.”
Princess Diana wears the Spencer tiara at Government House in Adelaide in 1985. The piece will be inherited by her granddaughter Princess Charlotte.Credit:AP
While Mansvelt’s lips remain tighter than a diamond setting on sales, Chaumet has made more than 2000 tiaras since 1780, including sparklers placed on the regal wigs and blow-dries of Empress Josephine of France, Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain, Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, and Roberte, Countess Bessborough, who loaned hers to US President John Kennedy’s mother Rose back in 1938.
It usually takes 18 months and 2000 hours of work for Chaumet’s jewellers to create tiaras to order, although Mansvelt can immediately assist customers with “tiaras for their fingers”, better known as rings. “The new flagship is focused on high jewellery, with appointment rooms for VIP clients.”
Auctions are another option for tiara traditionalists. A 1905 Belle Époque tiara from Italian jeweller Giuseppe Knight goes under the hammer in Paris at Bonhams auction house on February 16, with an estimate of $75,000 – $100,000.
Fiona Frith, jewellery specialist at Bonhams in Sydney, says Europe remains the biggest market for tiara purchases. Having unearthed tiaras in Australia belonging to outposts of aristocratic families, including one from relatives of the Viscount of Cowdray that sold for £110,062 ($192,047) in 2019, Frith forwards them to Bonham’s London headquarters.
“You associate tiaras with the higher echelons of society and formal occasions,” Frith says. “In Europe, there is definitely still a demand.”
“I’m sure there are plenty of tiaras still hiding in Australia. These pieces don’t always go straight down the family line through the eldest child and are often passed through daughters.”
The Spencer tiara, worn by Princess Diana at her wedding to Charles in 1981 and offered to Meghan for her wedding to Prince Harry (the Queen made a better offer, according to Harry’s autobiography Spare), will be inherited by Princess Charlotte.
If your heart is set on something new and your scalp is suited to Scandi-style, Danish jewellers Ole Lynggaard also offer tiaras. Crown Princess Mary of Denmark has a loan arrangement to wear the Midnight Tiara, featuring 31 knobs with moon stones and 1340 brilliant cut diamonds, in the interest of promoting Danish design.
In Australia, Ole Lynggaard has the 18-carat gold tiara with amber, coral, grey and blush moonstones, and diamond sprouts available for purchase. Former politician Julie Bishop’s favourite jeweller Margot McKinney has bought one.
“We have sold one tiara to our retailer in Brisbane, McKinney Fine Jewellers and they still stock the tiara, so it is available for purchase,” Kate O’Shea, general manager Ole Lynggaard Australia, says. The piece costs $31,500. “We have not sold a tiara to a client.”
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