The only downside to being an ardent royal jewel fan: the secrecy. Those royal vaults are sealed so tightly, and no one wants to talk about these explicit markers of majesty - particularly not in these sorts of economic times. So we guess, and we hope that our favorite pieces have survived through the years.
This one, I'm afraid, might be pure hope.
On her wedding day, Queen Elizabeth received quite the sparkly avalanche of presents. Among the spoils were a diamond tiara and matching necklace from the Nizam of Hyderabad. Made by Cartier, the design is appropriately based on English roses.
(Deep breath.) Queen Elizabeth may have dismantled this tiara. Potentially in favor of assembling this...gem:
These are the facts, or "facts" more accurately, given the absence of official information:
- The Queen hasn't worn the tiara publicly since about the early 1950s. (The last public appearance including the Nizam tiara that I've seen was 1952.)
- Of the Burmese ruby tiara's creation, Leslie Field says in The Queen's Jewels: "The diamonds came from a tiara the Queen had been given as a wedding gift by the Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar." (p.69, 1987 ed.) This statement is the main source of the dismantling rumors.
- However, in Tiaras: A History of Splendour, Geoffrey Munn does not include that detail in his description of the Burmese ruby tiara. He writes only briefly of the Nizam piece, saying: "There is also a tiara in bandeau form that was a wedding gift from the Nizam of Hyderabad," implying by use of the present tense that the piece still exists. (p. 1965, 2003 printing)
- The Royal Jewels by Suzy Menkes also neglects to mention the dismantling of the tiara, thus implying it still exists.
- In honor of the 60th wedding anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip, Buckingham Palace's 2007 summer exhibition included a selection of wedding gifts. On display: the necklace, but not the tiara. Indeed, no mention of the tiara was made.
Also, she wears pieces of the tiara: one larger rose brooch and two smaller brooches.
I say, if the tiara has been dismantled, let's put it back together. Though they may have removed the original diamonds, I'm going to make a leap of faith and assume the frame is still knocking about somewhere. It'd be rude to totally throw a wedding gift away, right? One doesn't want to be rude.