Tiara Time! The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

Alright, We apologize. We’ve been holding out on you. Observe, the delicate, diamond scalloping Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. This one tends to be a crowd favorite. (go on, bask in it’s glory!)

In 1893, a committee of ladies from the British Isles and Ireland banded together to raise money for a wedding gift for the (then) Princess Mary of Teck. Headed by Lady Eve Greville, the committee raised over £5,000, was able to purchase the diamond tiara from Garrard, London and had leftover money to boot. They did this because…well, people just banded together and presented grandiose gifts in the Nineteenth century. The leftover sterling went to charity at the request of the Princess Mary. The tiara came to be known as the (ta-da!) Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara! (ding ding!)

Girls of GB & Ireland tiara

The glory in which you are basking is the current, rebuilt or kinged like in checkers, glorious incarnation. [cue like a prayer]

The tiara, a diamond design of festoons and scrolls, rises in all its glorious glitter from a bandeau base of alternating round and lozenge-shaped diamonds. (Turns out there are two definitions of the word “lozenge.” Here I was about to replace it with the word “marquis” or “diamond cut.” I couldn’t figure out who would make a cough drop with corners. Seems detrimental to me…) The tiara’s diamond spikes were originally topped with nine Asian pearl finials and was intended to be one of those “transformer tiaras” that could also be worn as a necklace. (See below left.)

Queen Mary of Teck in Girls of GB & Ireland tiara

Queen Mary dismantled and reconstructed her jewellery as if they were fancy Lego blocks. Think about how she constantly rearranged the jewels in the Delhi Durbar Parure. She didn’t wait long to tinker with the “Girls” tiara as well. She removed the base, making the lozenge-loping bandeau its own tiara. (See center above.) In 1914, she removed the pearl finials and replaced them with round diamond collets pillaged from the Surrey Tiara. (See above right and below.) The huge tear-drop pearls from the original incarnation were relocated to the new Cambridge Lovers Knot tiara.

Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara no base

The future Queen Elizabeth II  received the above bandeau-less tiara as a wedding present in 1947 from her Grandma Mary. She sported it often and who can blame her? It’s AWESOME! I think the profile photo on the right should look familiar to just about anyone.

young queen elizabeth in the girls of GB & Ireland tiara

Now I don’t know the exact story here but I guess Elizabeth either didn’t know the bandeau existed or didn’t know it was formerly part of her wedding gift until sometime after she’d already become queen. Once she had this information, the Queen reunited the bandeau and the tiara in 1969, and she’s worn it that way ever since. The bit of extra height gives the tiara a more stately presence.

older queen elizabeth II in Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara is supposedly quite light and comfortable for a tiara. Another W for the “Girls” tiara!

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II wearing the tiara, designed by Arnold Machin, has appeared on many Commonwealth currencies, including those of Britain, Australia, Jamaica, Canada and Ceylon.


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.)
This entry was posted in diamond, england, tiara time! and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tiara Time! The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

  1. Ei Conklin says:

    Love this one .. like especially that, when rebuilt, they splayed out the top from the bottom instead of making it cylindrical, as in your first photo.. makes it more classically tiara-y.


it's not just a love-affair with my own voice

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