Okay…let’s make a screeching 180 from good ol’ St. Wenceslas‘ Crown and discuss what is most likely the most famous tiara the world over. Yes, of course, ’tis the Cambridge Lover’s Knot of which we speak.
The day before marrying the Prince of Wales in 1981, Lady Diana Spencer was handed a red leather box from her almost mother-in-law. Inside lay the famous tiara originally commissioned by Queen Mary. Using a nickname the British Press had given the Queen, young Diana was said to exclaim with glee, “I have Brenda’s rocks!”
In fact, the Cambridge Lover’s Knot is so entangled with the image of the late Princess Diana that I only realized a few years ago that this was NOT the tiara she wore at her wedding. (Her wedding tiara being that of her family: the Spencer Tiara.) She wore it frequently; we probably associate it most with the famous, pearl-encrusted “Elvis dress” with which she paired it when she attended a Japanese State Banquet. Unlike her famed sapphire engagement ring (now Kate’s) Princess Di returned the tiara to the Queen after the divorce.
The Cambridge Lover’s Knot was designed and crafted by E. Wolff & Co. for the royal jewelers Garrads. Nineteen diamond arches with drop pearls set on a diamond band, Queen Mary had her creation made with gems she’d received as wedding gifts. Queen Mary commissioned the tiara and drew her inspiration from the tiaras worn by Romanov Princess Tatiana Yusupova of Russia and most certainly her aunt the Grand Duchess Augusta Caroline. The Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara garners its name (imaginatively) from the original Lover’s Knot Tiara made in 1818.
The original Lovers Knot was made for Queen Mary’s maternal grandmother Princess Augusta of Hesse, the Duchess of Cambridge. Augusta received it as a wedding present when she married Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, seventh son of George III. Princess Augusta then passed the original Lover’s Knot down to her daughter Augusta Caroline (Auntie Grand Duchess) at the time of her marriage to Grand Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Lovers Knot bows were part of the design of both tiaras, repeating along the entire length and from which originate the drop-shaped pearls. Thus the name Lover’s Knot is derived from the repeated theme of this Gothic revival tiara.