One of the most memorable tiaras of all time — the one worn by Diana, Princess of Wales, on her wedding day in 1981 — will highlight a Sotheby’s London exhibition of more than 50 beautiful and storied headpieces spanning the ages. This is the UK’s largest exhibition of tiaras in 20 years and is timed to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, marking her 70 years on the throne.
Dubbed the Spencer Tiara, Diana’s diamond-adorned, wedding day headpiece is described by Sotheby’s as a delicate and harmonious series of running scrolls, interspersed with star and trumpet-shaped flowers. Elements of the piece were part of a tiara fabricated for Viscountess Montagu in 1767 and subsequently passed down through generations of the Spencer family.
Diana was said to be particularly found of the heart-shaped section in the center of the tiara because it was given to her grandmother, Lady Cynthia Hamilton, as a wedding present in 1919 when she married Viscount Althorp, the future seventh Earl Spencer.
The current incarnation of the Spencer Tiara was designed by royal jeweler Garrard in 1937 and merges components from the 18th century Montagu jewelry with those from Lady Sarah Spencer’s collection. In addition to wearing the headpiece during her nuptials, Diana reportedly wore it on many subsequent occasions, including state dinners and overseas tours.
Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, loaned the cherished tiara to Sotheby’s for the special exhibition. It’s the first time the historic Spencer Tiara has been on display in London since the 1960s.
“The Queen’s Jubilee celebrations have given us the perfect opportunity to put on public display an outstanding selection of tiaras from noble and royal provenance, many of which have not been exhibited in decades,” noted Kristian Spofforth, head of jewelry at Sotheby’s London. “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.”
Sotheby’s exhibition is titled “Power & Image: Royal & Aristocratic Tiaras” and will run from May 28 through June 15 at its London showroom on New Bond Street. Admission is free. The showroom is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and weekends noon until 5 p.m. The exhibition will be closed on June 5.
Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.