The Jeweled Tiara Still Tempts – The New York Times


Like Cinderella arriving at the palace, a jeweled tiara always stands out, whether worn at the Oscars, the Met Gala, or an exclusive state occasion requiring a ball gown and satin gloves.

“Over the past five years globally, we’ve probably sold over 80 tiaras,” Kristian Spofforth, head of jewelery at Sotheby’s London, said in a recent video interview from his New Bond Street office. “These are popular things and there are more tiaras than you might think. People are fascinated by them.

So much so, he said, that an average of 1,000 people a day visited Sotheby’s recent showcase of more than 50 royal and aristocratic tiaras.

Today, many jewelers offer tiaras, whether in the form of a Belle Epoque antique or a bespoke contemporary design.

One of the items featured in the Sotheby’s tiara window being sold while on display, Mr Spofforth said: The Opium Poppy Crown, a design this year of voluptuous brass flowers on a gold frame by British jeweler Christopher Thompson Royds, was priced at 1,800 pounds ($2,200). Two other Sotheby’s clients have since asked the jeweler to recreate it for them, Mr Spofforth said.

The majority of tiaras sales are concentrated with Chinese consumers, a sector that is on track to become the world’s largest luxury goods market by 2025, according to consultancy Bain & Company in a January report.

“I would say maybe three-quarters of the interest we have in our tiaras comes from the Chinese market,” said Guy Burton, director of jeweler Hancocks London, which has been in business since 1849 and now specializes in the high end. antique jewelry.

The company’s Anglesey tiara – a £900,000 glamazon from 1890 set with more than 100 carats of old European, mine-cut diamonds – was among those on sale at the Sotheby’s exhibition. According to Mr. Burton, he received a few inquiries but no offers during the show.

Along with tiaras, Mr Burton said, “weddings are the most functional and popular use of them” and since last spring Hancocks has also been quietly renting out its inventory of antique tiaras for weddings and other occasions. specials.

Some people just want to try one.

Beginning in 2013, consulting firm Beaumont Etiquette offered a $599 “Duchess Effect” course at New York’s Plaza Hotel, which included a “tiara trial” segment of diamond-set costumes and styles.

The course was suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, but Beaumont Etiquette founder Myka Meier said she hopes it will resume in the fall. A $74 online version started last month, drawing 40 to 50 people a day, Ms. Meier said.

“Pre-pandemic, people came from all over the world to take the course, it sold out every time and we had to close the waiting list to 100 guests,” she said by phone last month from London, where she attended events. linked to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

As a service to customers wishing to acquire a tiara for a special event, Ms Meier said she and her team have also purchased headpieces through a network including British costume jewelery designer Andrew Prince, who has created items for ” Downton Abbey”. television and film productions.

The impact of these programs, including Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ and ‘The Crown’, alongside the headlines surrounding the royal family, is palpable, Ms Meier said: Can I buy one? »

While a diamond tiara seems like an extravagant novelty worn on the rarest of occasions, jewelers point out that many designs have mechanisms that allow them to turn into a necklace or be taken apart to form brooches and bobby pins. .

This versatility is at the heart of their current appeal.

British jeweler Theo Fennell, who moved his studio this spring to the Chelsea Barracks development in London, approaches his orders for bespoke tiaras and tiaras with multifunctional uses in mind. With prices starting at £6,000, he said he tried to make each design “as adaptable as possible; what we’re doing is being more of a mechanic, designing something that will allow the part to be worn a few more times if a moment arises.

At Garrard, the British jeweler who made the blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring for Lady Diana Spencer, offers a line of bespoke tiaras which all have a detachable pendant (prices start at £75,000).

New York-based red-carpet mainstay Fred Leighton, an antique jewelry retailer, recently listed four 19th-century tiaras for sale, including a $100,000 one with five detachable star designs that has appeared in multiple discounts. price. More recently, the piece was worn by singer Billie Eilish at the Oscars in March — but not in her hair. Ms Eilish’s stylist, Dena Giannini, worked with Fred Leighton’s creative director, Rebecca Selva, to temporarily dismantle the jewel so the stars could be worn as rings and earrings.

“I think there’s a huge interest in tiaras because in the bridal arena and the way we dress to go out, people feel free to express their creativity and their individual style,” said Ms. Selva on a video call.

Even so, there are some ground rules for wearing a tiara, according to Meier. For starters, they were traditionally only worn by married women and never before 6 p.m.

“I would not wear a tiara unless it was stated on the invitation,” said Ms Meier, who attended a Platinum Jubilee celebration with an invitation asking for “tiaras and medals” to be worn.

But times and rules change. Rapper Kendrick Lamar wore a jeweled crown of thorns helmet by Tiffany & Company during his set at the 2022 Glastonbury music festival in England. And actress Ruth Negga was single in 2017 when she wore a ruby ​​tiara created in collaboration with her stylist Karla Welch and Los Angeles-based jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth. The piece sold the same year at a trunk show in Naples, Florida at the Marissa Collections jewelry store. “It went to an amazing collector who is actually in her early 90s now,” Ms Neuwirth said. “She’s fabulous and she wears it every time I see her.”

Ms. Neuwirth shares Ms. Selva’s view that wearing a tiara is not about indulging in a princess fantasy, but about standing out in a crowd and expressing your individual style. “It’s for the woman who wants to take risks, the cool kid who wants to express her creativity in a bolder way,” she said. “I think it’s a strong power move.”


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