Tiaras Designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria

  March 2, 2009 at 8:12 pm by

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha loved to design jewellery for his wife, Queen Victoria. Throughout their marriage he designed a number of key pieces which naturally became some of the most treasured possessions of Victoria. Of these jewels, Albert designed at least four tiaras for Victoria to wear – two of these were the diamond and emerald tiara and the sapphire and diamond tiara. Victoria gifted many of jewels to her numerous children and grandchildren throughout her life as well as placing some key items into the hands of the state to ensure that they would remain in the possession of future monarchs. However both the emerald and sapphire tiaras never became part of the Crown jewels collection and today are no longer with the British Royal Family.

Today, the emerald and diamond tiara exists intact in a private collection of a descendant of Queen Victoria’s. It was loaned out for an exhibition at Wartski in 1997 but recent reports that the tiara might have been either sold or dismantled circulate.

Diamond and Emerald tiara

Victoria and Albert with five of their children, by Winterhalter

Click to see full portrait at Corbis

This spectacular tiara (image 1) was commissioned by Albert in 1845 and made by goldsmith Joseph Kitching for a sum of £1,150. Kitching had been responsible for making a number of other pieces of jewellery designed by Albert including Victoria’s famous small coronet. The tiara’s design reflects the style of the neo-Gothic period of the nineteenth century with series of spikes of large cabochon-cut emeralds as well as a quatrefoil design. Matching earrings and brooches were also made to be worn with the tiara. In a painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1846 showing the Queen and Prince Albert along with five of their eventual nine children (the Prince of Wales, Prince Alfred, the Princess Royal, Princess Alice and the baby Princess Helena), Victoria chose to wear the emerald and diamond tiara with the earrings and brooches.

Diamond and Sapphire Tiara

th_queenvictoria-1In 1842, Prince Albert designed a small sapphire and diamond tiara for Victoria costing £415 (image 2). Again in the Gothic revival style, the tiara had a heavy base of large sapphires set in gold and diamonds set in silver. The young Queen wore the tiara in a portrait by Winterhalter in 1842 but unusually wore the piece at the back of her head in an upright position. Victoria was also seen wearing the tiara following Albert’s death in another painting by Richard Graves in 1874 and this time it was worn on top of her white widow’s cap (image 3). Victoria gave the tiara to her eldest daughter, the Princess Royal, and today the piece is in the possession of the Earl and Countess of Harewood. It was loaned to the exhibition in 1997 and also in 2002 at the Victoria and Albert musuem.

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