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:
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…)
His grace, Bendor, commissioned this unique tiara from Chamuet, Paris as a gift for his first wife, Constance Edwina (Shelagh) Cornwallis-West, below. Go 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?)
Two 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.
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!
- the kokoshnik hallucination follow-up syndrome? (tiarasandtrianon.wordpress.com)
- Revealed: how we pay our richest landowners millions in subsidies (newstatesman.com)