Designers / Industry

To Di For: Lady Diana’s Tiara Stars In Sotheby’s Exhibition


The Spencer tiara, worn by Lady Diana during her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles, will take center stage at a new exhibition on tiaras staged by Sotheby’s.

The exhibit, Power & Image: Royal & Aristocratic Tiaras, is free and open to the public and will run from May 28 to June 15 at Sotheby’s headquarters in London as part of Jubilee season, a monthlong celebration of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

The program will display some 50 tiaras of aristocratic and royal provenance, with some pieces exhibited publicly for the first time. The auction house called it “the largest tiara exhibition to be staged in the United Kingdom in 20 years.”

The Spencer tiara will be exhibited in London for the first time since the 1960s. The tiara was reportedly created in 1767 and was passed down through generations of the Spencer family. It is believed to have been a favorite of the former princess, who wore it during her celebrated nuptials, as well as during royal tours and white-tie events from 1983 to 1992. Lady Diana’s grandmother, Lady Cynthia Hamilton, received it as a wedding present for her 1919 marriage to Albert “Jack” Spencer (Viscount Althorp and 7th Earl Spencer).

Spencer tiara
The Spencer tiara

Among other historically significant head ornaments included in the exhibit:

– An emerald and diamond tiara (shown below) designed by Prince Albert for his wife Queen Victoria in 1845, which was crafted by crown jeweler Joseph Kitching. This was considered Victoria’s favorite tiara, which she wore during several royal and official engagements, including a state visit to France in 1855.

Queen Victoria tiara
One of Queen Victoria’s favorite tiaras

– The gold, cameo, and enamel diadem worn by Joséphine Bonaparte, wife of French emperor Napoleon (shown below), helped resurrect the tiara as a fashion trend. It is adorned with five oval hard-stone cameos made of layered agate and jasper, which show the head of Medusa and a profile of Zeus.

Josephine tiara
This tiara helped reignite tiaras as a fashion trend.

The tiara was sold at Sotheby’s in December for $714,000.

Top: Lady Diana sporting the celebrated tiara (photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images; images courtesy of Sotheby’s)

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By: Rob Bates

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