Lover’s Knot Tiara: History behind Kate Middleton & Princess Diana’s favourite diadem
Like much of the jewellery in the Queen’s collection, The Lover’s Knot tiara was commissioned by Queen Mary, Elizabeth’s grandmother. Mary was an avid collector of extravagant jewels, and had The Lover’s Knot made in 1913 after taking a liking to the Cambridge Lover’s Knot. The two are often confused, but are not the same piece.
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The Cambridge Lover’s Knot was worn by Mary’s grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel.
The original was then later given to Augusta’s eldest daughter, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who passed it on to her granddaughter, Duchess Jutta of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, to mark her marriage to Crown Prince Danilo of Montenegro.
Interestingly, this still exists – it was last sold at a Christie’s auction in Geneva in 1981 for $747,000 to Georg and Marie Gabrielle von Waldburg zu Zeil, and is now worn by their daughter-in-law, Mathilde.
Garrard made the replica for Mary, and because of its royal connections, it has surpassed the original in fame.
When Queen Mary died in 1953, the tiara was passed to Queen Elizabeth, who wore the piece several times in the 50s, although not in more recent times.
Any thoughts Her Majesty might have had of wearing the piece again disappeared when she loaned it to Princess Diana as a wedding gift.
While Diana didn’t wear it on her wedding day, she fell in love with it, and went on to wear it many times.
However, she did not get to keep it in the event of her divorce, and it was returned to the Queen, were it was reportedly kept in a safe at Buckingham Palace.
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The tiara was then not seen again until 2015, when Kate – by then the Duchess of Cambridge – wore it to a Buckingham Palace reception. She has work it on several official occasions since.
The full Lover’s Knot consists of diamonds and 38 drop-shaped pearls, set in silver and gold.
Originally, it was topped with a row of 19 upright pearls, which is how Mary wore it – but these were removable, and have not been used in modern times, meaning now it is only seen with 19 pendant pearls.
Even with the original pearls removed, this is a weighty item, and Diana reportedly found it quite heavy.
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It gets its name from the sweet diamond knots seen at the top of the item, which adds a romantic edge.
A youthful piece, it is one we are likely to see Kate wearing for some time to come, before she moves on to grander tiaras when she is Queen Consort.
Speaking about the potential value of the diadem, Deborah Papas, gemmologist and jewellery expert from Prestige Pawnbrokers of Channel 4’s Posh Pawn said: “One of my favourite quotes is from Keats ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’.
“This is certainly true of this magnificent tiara. I am not surprised the tiara was prone to give headaches! It is large and made from platinum, which is a dense metal and would be at least 95 percent pure, giving a heavy mount to start with.
“The pearls are large and together with the array of varying sizes of diamonds, would add to a hefty weight.
“The tiara has 19 arches and has a single drop oriental pearl suspended from a lover’s knot in each one graduating slightly in size around the piece.
“These drops are flexible and shows a shimmering movement as the head is turned.
“The piece is hard to value due to the complexity of the make and the large number of diamonds to consider as well as natural pearls which are rare to find in this size and shape. However, I would think it could be worth in the region of £2- 4million.”
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