Crown jewels: Stunning tiaras for modern brides

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Thought beautiful tiaras were reserved for queens and princesses? Think again. As the capital gears up for the upcoming coronation — which will see Camilla, Queen Consort wear the spectacular Queen Mary’s Crown and the Princess of Wales sport statement pieces from the royal jewellery collection — there’s no better time to delve into the world of tiaras (and maybe even invest in one for yourself). 

The history of tiaras


Image: Unsplash/Nathan McGregor

Dating back to Ancient Greece and Rome, tiaras — often referred to as diadems in the form of wreath-shaped headwear — were originally worn by both men and women to symbolise status and wealth. Moving into the late 18th century, Napoleon and his first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, are credited for reviving the tiara as part of the famed commander’s ambitions to make the French court the finest and glitziest in Europe in the aftermath of the French revolution. A number of tiaras made for de Beauharnais still form part of the collections of Europe’s royal houses, such as the Cameo Parure tiara now owned by the Swedish royal family. 

During the 19th century tiaras still resembled prestige and power. The jewellery piece was often associated with royals and titled women, becoming an essential part of female attire for court ceremonies, balls and formal occasions. They became popular as wedding presents, too, with a (well-to-do) bride often receiving a sparkly tiara from either her new husband or father on her wedding day.

The tiara’s heyday, however, was from 1890-1915 when wealthy women suddenly had an array of styles and gemstones to choose from as grand jewellery houses like Garrard, Fabergé, Chaumet, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels all caught on to the trend. After the First World War, however, tiaras became less fashionable as garish displays of wealth were deemed distasteful during a period of international economic turmoil. 

Today, tiaras are still worn by the intended clientele they were created for in the pre-18th century: the rich and famous. And while still not commonplace, the last few decades have seen fashion designers put their own spin on the classic female crown, highlighted when Versace made a tiara for Madonna in the early 2000s. Royals, given their status, are still naturally among the biggest tiara-wearers, with the late Queen Elizabeth II said to have the largest and most valuable collection in the world, largely inherited from previous English and European monarchs. 

When to wear a tiara

There’s a common misconception that only titled women can wear tiaras, however, anyone can wear one where the dress code ‘white tie’ applies (otherwise known as full evening dress). But make sure to remember that white-tie events in hotels are excluded. 

Traditionally, young women only wear tiaras once they are married. On their wedding day, they would wear a tiara from their own family and, once married, only wear tiaras from their husband’s. However, in the modern day, these rules often no longer apply.

Where to buy a tiara

Fancy a tiara for your own wedding day? You needn’t be a royal or millionaire to sport some dazzling headgear on your big day. We’ve rounded up the best tiaras for thoroughly modern brides, whether they wish to replace a veil with a jewelled crown or just want to feel like a princess on their big day. 

David Morris Coronation tiara

Since 1962, David Morris has crafted jewels for royalty from around the world but claims one of its favourite commissions was creating the golden dragon which sits atop the Aston Martin given to King Charles on his 21st birthday by Queen Elizabeth. Given its royal connections, it’s unsurprising the London-based brand has pulled out all the stops for the coronation with a new high jewellery collection, including the Coronation Tiara. This unique piece interprets the elongated petals of the Trillium flower with contemporary elegance and is set with more than 24cts of diamonds.


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Halo and Co Gertrude gold leaf bridal crown

Bespoke jewellery brand Halo and Co works out of its North Wales studio to create truly unique pieces for brides but also stocks a range of ready-to-wear headpieces which are guaranteed to catch the eye. Perfect for the bohemian bride, the Gertrude gold leaf bridal crown features a fanfare of golden leaves and delicate daisies each with a tiny Swarovski crystal centre. Golden goddess chic.


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Yoko Coronation tiara

To celebrate the upcoming coronation of King Charles III, Yoko London has produced a one-of-a-kind tiara that’s quite literally fit for royalty. This piece features 19 Australian South Sea drop-shaped pearls which have each been hand-selected and set in the house’s London workshop. The pearls, which sway gently as the wearer moves, are set among 24.97 carats of diamonds and 18ct white gold in an intricate design. To purchase the unique tiara, visit the brand’s London store at 6 Sloane Street.


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Bentley and Skinner late Victorian opal and diamond tiara

If you’re aiming to replicate royal touches on your wedding day, look no further than Bentley and Skinner’s fine jewellery collection. As Jewellers by Royal Appointment to both the late Queen Elizabeth and King Charles, the Mayfair designer’s late Victorian tiara fetches a pretty penny but is also one of the most prestigious pieces in the collection. A definite showstopper, it consists of seven knife-edge gold bars graduating from the centre, each set with two round cabochon-cut opals sandwiching an old-cut diamond.


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Simone Rocha crystal and faux pearl-embellished tiara

Tiaras, as they have evolved from the pre 18th-century, now take on many forms and Simone Rocha’s embellished crown puts a playful spin on tradition. Intended to drape over the bride’s head, the delicate tiara features strings of faux pearls with a dazzling crystal embellishment at the centre. Fancy something more unconventional? Swap the fuss of the veil for this statement piece instead.


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Cassandra Goad Villa Ariadne pearl and diamond tiara

Want to channel Grecian vibes on your wedding day? Look no further than Cassandra Goad’s dainty tiara which pays homage to Cretan princess Ariadne. The tiara, set in 18ct white gold, features Villa Ariadne pearls and five diamonds at the centre and sits on the crown of the head — small enough to be worn under a veil or be taken off after the ceremony without messing up your hair.


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Jennifer Behr mignonette crystal-embellished tiara

A bit more understated than the other tiaras in this collection, this crystal-embellished crown from New York City jewellery house Jennifer Behr will suit the subtle bride. Swarovski crystals have been formed into a floral motif around a silver-plated headband. We recommend this crown for brides who are opting for a chic updo style.


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Pragnell Antrobus dove tiara

This light and ethereal tiara was inspired by the popular styles of the 1920s, when tiaras were often worn low across the forehead, and was originally designed by Philip Antrobus of Bond Street in 1925. Established at the beginning of the 19th-century, the Antrobus jewellery house has a longstanding relationship with the Royal Family having been tasked with creating the engagement ring the then Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark presented to Princess Elizabeth in 1947. When the firm was acquired by the Pragnell family in the early 1990s, the original design for the dove tiara stood out to its skilled craftsmen and the result is this stunning replication resembling two elegant wing forms with a rose cut pear diamond taking centre stage as the body and head of the dove.


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Ivory and Co Rebecca gold crystal statement regal tiara

Offering a more affordable alternative without sacrificing opulence, this large tiara from Ivory and Co promises classic European princess opulence for your wedding day. The array of stones are cut in marquise and solitaire form and intertwined flowers and leaves, which are plated in 14ct gold and measure 6cm at the highest point. The tiara is set with Austrian crystals, cut to look like real diamonds, and faceted beads for extra sparkle.


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Garrard Catherine white gold, aquamarine and diamond tiara

While you may need to remortgage a house or two in order to splash the cash on this tiara, Garrard’s Catherine design is undeniably a showstopper. As former Crown Jeweller to the British monarchy, Garrard is accustomed to designing tiaras for royalty, with some of its most prized items including Queen Mary’s Fringe tiara, which the eponymous queen gifted to her granddaughter Princess Elizabeth to wear on her wedding day in 1947. However, this Catherine style has been inspired by the gardens of the Royal Palaces and is crafted from 18ct white gold frosted with diamonds and set with five cushion-cut aquamarines. Plus, the central pendant can be detached and worn as a necklace — perfect for brides looking for their ‘something blue’.


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Read more: The Shopping List: Brilliant things to buy this week

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