The Oriental Circlet Tiara

Happy Monday everyone! Our guest poster Sarah Taylor has returned to discuss another of Queen Elizabeth’s gorgeous ruby tiaras. Her last post was on Queen Elizabeth’s Burmese Ruby Tiara and today we are reviewing the Oriental Circlet Tiara, pictured below.

The Oriental Circlet Tiara, also known as the Indian Ruby Tiara, was commissioned by Prince Albert the Prince Consort in 1853 as a gift to his wife, Queen Victoria. Knowing the provenance explains why it is also known as Queen Victoria’s Oriental Circlet Tiara. So many names! Anyhow, Prince Albert also designed the tiara and it is based on ‘Moghul’ arches surrounding lotus flowers. Prince Albert had been impressed by the various jewels give to Queen Victoria by the East India Company at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, and it inspired him to design this tiara.

Prince Albert was often involved in the design and setting of Queen Victoria’s jewelry, as she said herself in a quote verified by the Royal Collection webpage, “Albert has such taste & arranges everything for me about my jewels.”  The tiara was created by Garrard & Co and consists of diamonds, rubies and gold.

Notably, the original Oriental Circlet Tiara that Queen Victoria wore was designed not with rubies, but with opals. Her daughter-in-law Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII, who received the tiara in 1901, later had the opals replaced with Burmese rubies, as she felt opals caused bad luck. The rubies had been given to Queen Victoria in 1873. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were both very fond of opals, and Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria many pieces of opal jewelry during their marriage. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert gave each of their daughters opals upon their marriages, as well as gifting Princess Alexandra of Denmark (the future Queen Alexandra) an opal parure consisting of three broaches, a cross, a pair of earrings, and a bracelet (she wore the opal and diamond bracelet on her wedding day).

The Oriental Circlet Tiara passed to Queen Alexandra’s daughter-in-law, Queen Mary, wife of King George V, in 1925. It does not seem that HM Queen Mary wore the Oriental Circlet Tiara. She was well known for her great interest in jewelry, which makes the omission of the Oriental Circlet Tiara from her tiara appearances unusual.

In 1937 the Oriental Circlet Tiara was passed to HM Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI, known these days at HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. It was passed to Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of her coronation as Queen Consort of King George VI. The Oriental Circlet Tiara was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, and she wore it on many occasions throughout her life.

Here is Queen Elizabeth wearing it in Ottawa, Canada in May 1939. She is standing next to Canadian Prime Minster William Lyon Mackenzie King. Perhaps she picked it out since the red rubies would be seen as rather patriotic to Canadians…

and here she is with it on two more occasions:

It’s nice to see her all decked out in rubies.

The cluster and drop necklace, and the pendant earrings which are paired with the tiara, are part of the original Oriental Circlet set belonging to Queen Victoria. Queen Alexandra replaced all of the opals in the tiara, earrings and necklace with rubies.

HM Queen Elizabeth II has worn the Oriental Circlet Tiara since the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 2002. It is worth noting that at all times the Oriental Circlet Tiara has remained Crown Property, and not the personal property of the wearer. It was left to the Crown by Queen Victoria, with the intention that it would be born by future Queens, which it has. It is part of the Royal Collection.

Here HM The Queen pairs it with the Baring ruby necklace and Queen Mary’s ruby earrings, both of which she wears often, and which she has also paired with her Burmese Ruby Tiara.

So what do you think? Is this one of your favourites? Do let us know if there are any other tiaras in particular you’d like to hear more about!


Categories: British Royal Family, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Royal Jewels, Tiaras

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1 reply

  1. If, as you report: “the Oriental Circlet Tiara has remained Crown Property, and not the personal property of the wearer. It was left to the Crown by Queen Victoria, with the intention that it would be borne by future Queens, which it has.”

    I think this tiara would look beautiful on Kate, at some far off future date, with the rubies replaced with blue sapphires to match her engagement ring.

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