the Westminster Tiara collection: the Chamuet Kokoshnik with Blue Enamel

Yes, oh dearest people who read this, it’s time for another theme week! Fret not, the entire theme week guarantees Tiara Time, all the time! (Okay, I’ll wait here, let you get it out of your system…take your time. And you thought Mondays blew.) Well theme week number two is dedicated to the envy-fermenting collection owned and handed down by the Dukes of Westminster. So let’s kick off the Tiaras of Westminster Week with a lil’ kokoshnik I teased you with about a week ago:

westminster tiara collection: blue enamel kokoshnik

this belle-epoque kokoshnik tiara was designed by Chamuet in 1911, specifically for the upcoming Coronation festivites

This azure beauty was added to the Westminster Collection, when the second Duke of Westminster, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor–nickname “Bendor” commissioned it in 1911. (I am NOT kidding nor am I misspelling! Nevermind the most famous picture of Bendor is taken in a pith helmet…)

(clockwise) the young duke, (ca 1900), the classic pith-helmet look that made Bendor famos, Bendor gets down to business in later years

His grace, Bendor, commissioned this unique tiara from Chamuet, Paris as a gift for his first wife, Constance Edwina (Shelagh) Cornwallis-West, below.                 Constance Edwina Cornwallis West, duchess of westminsterGo on, tell me that ain’t a society name…if that didn’t convince you, Edwina was this sister of Daisy, Princess von Pless and the youngest daughter of William Cornwallis-West, descended from John West, second Earl de la Warr. If this lineage is too “small time” for you, here’s an interesting side note. Bendor’s first Duchess of Westminster is a descendant of Mary Boleyn. (But not Anne? How does that work out?)

anne and mary boleyn, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Huh? I’m not but how can you be related to one sister and not the other?

westminster blue enamel kokoshnik tiaraTwo hundred and eighty brilliant-cut diamonds make up the forget-me-not blossoms and their vines hang, silver weeping willows setting off an Aegean blue . Chamuet used blue, pilque-a-jour enamel to evoke the texture of the traditional fabric kokoshniks worn by Russian peasant women for centuries.

Plique-a-jour is in no way an easy process to describe…though I found a youtube video for a tchotchke do-it-at-home plique-a-jour.

(Hey, I’m not saying I can do any better; I just like to show off that I can spell tchotchke like THAT!) Dig the pics though, you know it’s AMAZING!

Sometime in between Bendor and recent years, the tiara was sold off…for what other reason but I’m sure the family needed some scratch. I’ve looked high and low but can’t figure out where it was before the current Duke of Westminster bought it back. Update: the Christie’s website claims that–wherever the hell it was–it was being mistaken for a Faberge not a Chamuet. An anonymous personal pronoun claims he/she verified it…and therefore the Duke knew it was his? Vaguery. (Plus they mispelled ‘Faberge on their webpage.

Anyhow, back to the Chamuet Belle Epoque Kokoshnik…Major-General Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, his grace the sixth and current Duke of Westminster recently acquired it anew for the family. This isn’t the first tiara he’s gotten back for the family…his grace has been doing very well for himself, both in the peerage and in the free market at large.

the sixth duke of westminster with is son, Hugh, Earl Grosvenor, the earl's birthday, 19 January, 2012

Major-General Hugh Cavendish Gosvenor, the sixth Duke of Westminster with his son, Hugh, Earl Grosvenor, on the Earl’s 21st birthday, 19 January, 2012

TIARA UPDATE! November 10, 2015

The blue enamel Chamuet Kokoshnik was sold at auction at Christie’s Geneva for $667,104. For more inforation (and better photos) click here!

About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
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18 Responses to the Westminster Tiara collection: the Chamuet Kokoshnik with Blue Enamel

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  7. yakinamac says:

    That’s quite some corset Edwina has squeezed herself into – the girl deserves a tiara at the very least.


  8. Could you explain the connection of West family with the Boleyns? I tried to find it out, but haven’t manager to do so. As I am Polish, the history of UK is not so clear to me at every point.

    Thank you in advance.

    Best regards,


    • that will take a little looking into! Besides I’m American so we didn’t learn about any monarchs unless they were involved in a war or a coup d’etat!

      Your question is quite thought provoking and I can’t wait to find an answer.

      Thanks for your comment!


      • I woluld be so grateful indeed…
        My deep interest on the Cornwallis-West comes form the fact, the elder daugther of the Cornwallis-Wests – Daisy, sister of Shelagh, married Hans Heinrich XV Hochberg, the aristocrat from Prussia. After the II WW the part of land belonging formerly to Hohberg Family started to be a part of the territory of Poland: Lower Silesia (the Książ palace, villas in Wałbrzych) and Upper Silesia (the palace in Pszczyna) etc.
        Daisy von Pless, nee Maria Theresa Olivia Cornvallis-West is considered one of the most intriguing and inspiring characters by some Daisy-geeks from the region, including me 😉 I know even 3 people writing blogs exclusively about Daisy von Pless, her life, her family and everything what has evan a slight connection with her.
        We are expectantly looking forward to your findings 🙂

        Best greetings from Katowice,


      • Edie Engel says:

        The De La Warrs are related to Anne B. as well–it’s just not the same relationship. Maybe your mother has a sister: you are related to both, but in different ways. If you are related to Mary Boleyn (and lots and lots of people are!) she is perhaps, just as an example, your 14x great grandmother. Then Anne is your15x great aunt. That’s it.

        (Daisy of Pless, nee Mary Theresa Cornwallis West, was in the 12th generation from Mary Boleyn, her 10x great grandmother, through Mary’s daughter, Katherine Cary, whose own daughter, Anne Knollys married into the West family [to Thomas West 2nd Baron Delaware]. Anne Boleyn would have been Daisy’s 11x great aunt.)

        And as an American you should know the De La Warrs because they are responsible for the name of that little state in the midAtlantic there!


  9. You may possibly be interested in Daisy’s jewellery and pieces she was wearing on her head. One of her most famous headpieces is a crown of the duchess of the Holy Roman Empire (unfortunately I do not know the “professional name of that piece; can be found in her diaries, probably on the day describing her wedding):

    It was a wedding present from her father-in-law. The photo was taken in La Fayette Studio in London, on 11th October 1901.


  10. Pingback: tiara update! Chamuet Belle Epoque Kokoshnik of the Westminsters no Longer Part of the Collection | tiaras and trianon

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