René Lalique (1860-1945)
France, c. 1903-1904
Ivory, horn, gold and topaz
18 x 16 cm
Inv. no. 1211
“The body of this beautiful diadem consists of two orchids in horn and one in ivory, while a small drop-shaped topaz appears in the centre of the ivory flower. The three-pronged comb is also in horn and connected to the diadem by a gold hinge
Lalique first exhibited a bracelet made of horn at the 1896 Salon. Following its success, he continued to produce jewels in horn and ivory during the following years.
The exotic orchid was one of the flowers that symbolised the aesthetic movement of the late nineteenth century. Art Nouveau jewellers handled the subject with great realism, which is heightened in this case by René Lalique’s technical mastery. He started from the real flower yet managed to imbue it simultaneously with elegance and a powerful erotic charge. ”
The parure was designed and executed by the renowned Parisian jewelers Etienne Nitot et fils. It consisted of 138 emeralds, 382 rose~cut diamonds and 2,162 brilliant~cut diamonds. This diadem (not a tiara because it is fully circular and a tiara is not) was allowed to be partially dismantled (it was purchased by Van Cleef & Arpels) and its emeralds re-set in other jewelry settings. However, the original framework of the tiara has been preserved, the emeralds being replaced by turquoise but the diamonds remain original.
Perhaps the crown for a mermaid queen?
Oh dear… it looks like another one escaped the queue!
The Diadem of Empress Josephine (1804)
“Made for the coronation of Empress Josephine in December 1804, this magnificent piece is fully set with diamonds and is reputed to have been one of her favourite pieces of jewellery. In 1887 the French Republic decided to hold a major sale of its treasures and this tiara was purchased by the New York firm of Van Cleef and Aspels, in whose possession it remains today.
At the coronation ceremony in Notre Dame Cathedral Napoleon took on a throne at the right of the altar , with Josephine on a smaller throne five steps below.* After crowning himself, Napoleon returned to the altar and took up the crown for Josephine. As he held this over his own head he stated that he was crowning Josephine as his wife, not by her own right.** This is the moment illustrated in David’s famous painting of the coronation.”
Pretty brilliant headdress.
Diadems with open tops such as these were only worn my unmarried women in order to showcase their hair, considered a prize possession. Russian beliefs stated that evil could be worked against a married woman if her hair was exposed; therefore they were required to hide their hair under a full headdress.