Diana In Tiara

When Princess Diana married Prince Charles in 1981, Queen Elizabeth II gave her a diamond lovers' knots (bow) pearl tiara that once belonged to her grandmother, Queen Mary. The tiara was originally made for Queen Mary in 1914 by Garrard, the Royal Jewelers, recycling pearls she received as a wedding present. Yes, even royalty recycle and revamp jewelry!

Mary in pearls and gauze

The original tiara had more than the 19 drop pearls seen in the portrait of Queen Mary here. The tiara had an additional row of upstanding pearls all along the top. Typical of Belle Époque (late 19th century to WWI) jewelry designs where jewelry could be taken apart and worn in different ways, these upright pearls were detachable. Most photographs of the Royal Family show the tiara worn without the extra row.

Author, Suzy Menkes (see reference below) speculates the inspiration behind its design is Russian in origin. The design is more the style of Cartier rather than Garrard and is reminiscent of the bejewelled kokoshniks or tiares russes made for the Romanovs. The bow tie and ribbon motif was used in French designs during this period and in Romanov jewelry.

In 1925, the Bolsheviks discovered a huge cache of incredible jewelry in an underground dungeon at the end of a secret passage of the Moscow Palace of Prince Yussupov. He was the Russian Prince who, with others, murdered the Mad Monk, Rasputin in 1916. Amongst the treasures was an nearly identical diadem. Menkes makes the case that Queen Mary would have seen this distinctive tiara she met up with her royal Russian relatives when they gathered together for an aristocratic wedding.

NB. The caption for the picture of Princess Diana incorrectly identifies the tiara as the Spencer tiara.

Protrait source

Suzy Menkes (1985). The Royal Jewels. Grafton Books.
The Beading Gem's Journal