Many of you beloved visitors frequent that link up top “Tiara Terminology” and are therefore in the know about the “Tiara vs. Diadem” debate. We must turn to semantics to find the difference because physically We don’t have a lot of rhyme or reason with which to work.Previously, the best reasons We came upon were “A diadem denotes royalty, a tiara does not.” But then aren’t all tiaras in the royal collections diadems? Then we had “A tiara is higher in the middle & tapers while a diadem goes all the way around the head.” Baloney. The Portland Tiara isn’t the Portland Diadem even though it has a fixed width of 54 cm (just over 24 inches).
So in the end, as always, it comes down to etymology. (You have know idea how this delights Us…We were a Creative Writing/English major and an ESL teacher for 11 years. We love this geeky, OED, morphological stuff. Yes, I’m making the Finger Pyramid of Evil Contemplation right now.) Alright, so in the beginning there were only diadems.
diadem: from the Greek diadein meaning “to bind around” and thus begins the journey from ancient verb to divine headress!
Long story short, all other terms for royal headgear, tiara, coronet, chaplet, the whole shmear, are simply subcategories or more specific descriptions of a diadem. To put it in SAT terms
tiara : diadem :: sedan : car
I wonder if the SAT still has that bastard analogy section. Talk about square pegs in round holes…and now they have another 1000 points on the damn thing. Gee, We would’ve liked an extra 1000 points in margin for error. In case you’re wondering–yes, your Blog Hostess has a hatred of standardized testing…and number 2 pencils, naturally.
So, long story short, that differentiation will be added to the Tiara Terminology page. Conversely, how many famous royal jewels are labelled ‘diadems’? I can only think of one, famous thanks to the UK postage stamp and some profiles on pence coins. The George IV Diadem. Now looking into the future, can you see Charles or Wills wearing the George IV? I didn’t think so. It has a distinctly feminine quality, either that or we’ve all come to associate it exclusively with Queen Elizabeth. There’s a good reason for that.Though it was made for George IV, he did not wear it, though his wife Alexandra did. Since then, only women have worn it. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It doesn’t seem appropriate for Kate…that’s who tiaras, circlets, kokoshniks and aigrettes are intended.
But that’s just my opinion. Who do you think will be the next to sport the George IV Diadem?
- Tiara Time! the Emerald Laurel Wreath Tiara (tiarasandtrianon.wordpress.com)