The ornate diamond tiara Princess Diana wore for her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981 is about to go on display for the first time in decades.
The Spencer Tiara will be included in a new exhibition of royal and aristocratic jewels held at Sotheby's in London from May 28 to June 15 and open for free to the public in honor of Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee next month. The show, titled “Power & Image: Royal and Aristocratic Tiaras,” will feature 40 striking pieces of fine jewelry rarely loaned out for public display, including this important piece of Spencer family history. The tiara is currently on loan to Sotheby's from Diana's brother, Earl Spencer.
The Spencer Tiara has been in their family for over a century, but was assembled slowly over a matter of years. The central part of the circlet shaped like a heart was given to Lady Cynthia Hamilton in 1919 as a wedding present upon her marriage to Albert, Viscount Althorp, the future 7th Earl Spencer and grandfather of Princess Diana. This gift came from another member of her new husband's family, Lady Sarah Spencer, the unmarried daughter of the fourth earl. The ends of the tiara are also said to be from Lady Sarah's collection and, in the 1930s. the fine jewelry company Garrard assembled and embellished those pieces with the addition of a diamond floral diadem. While Diana's mother wore a tiara from her own family's collection for her wedding, her three daughters all wore the Spencer Tiara on their big days. And, most recently, it was worn by Celia McCorquodale, the daughter of Diana’s sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, for her wedding in 2018.
In addition to getting to see Princess Diana's wedding day jewels in person for the first time in years, visitors will also be able to pay a visit to one of Queen Victoria's favorite and most ostentatious crowns. The royal's emerald and diamond tiara, which features a huge 15-carat emerald at its center, was designed by her husband Prince Albert in 1845. According to Sotheby's the piece “is widely seen as one of the most elegant and sumptuous colored gemstone tiaras ever created anywhere in the world.” Three tiaras worn to Queen Elizabeth's 1953 coronation will also be on display.
“The sourcing of these jewels has been a labor of love, resulting in an exhibition that showcases the best iterations within the tiara style register, through some of its most famous incarnations—including the much-loved and photographed Spencer Tiara,” Kristian Spofforth, the head of jewelry at Sotheby’s London, said in a statement. “This is also a wonderful moment for us to shine a special light on the dazzling craftsmanship delivered by generations of mainly British-based jewelers across several centuries of tiara making.”