Actually part of a parure, today’s Tiara Time treat is more famous for its history than its public appearances. In fact, We don’t even know to whom the Hesse Aquamarine Parure belongs anymore. Not unlike the Sasquatch, there was an unconfirmed sighting of the tiara during Paris Fashion Week 1997. Strutted down the runway to celebrate Atelier Versace’s Spring line, what appears to be the Hesse Aquamarine Tiara tops off a mens-dress-shirt-cum-wedding-gown look. (Slide to minute 1:20 to jump directly to the model in question.)
Okay, We’ve watched the video at least 6 times now and if that’s not the authentic tiara, it’s a helluva repro. Not to be myopic nor blasé, but the tiara’s appearance in Gianni Versace’s last show is not what We meant by historic. What your Blog Hostess meant was really, really historic…not late ’90s nostagia. (Of which We have a lot.)
The journey of the parure begins with Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. Born Princess Elisabeth of Hesse, Note the discrepancy in spelling, kids. When Elisabeth of Hesse married Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich she was forced to relinquish the ‘s’ in exchange for the ‘z’ spelling of her name. Wow. Marrying into the Romanov clan was brutal, n’est-ce pas? Is there no limit to their treachery? To answer Our own rhetorical, yes! Elizabeth-now-with-a-Z was given by the perky moniker ‘Ella.’ An interesting family sidenote, Elizabeth’s youger sister was also given a feisty nickname, Alix, when she married Tsar Nicholas II. Nicholas II was Sergei’s nephew, effectively making Elizabeth-with-a-Z her little sister’s aunt. Kinda reminds you of that “I’m My Own Grandpa” song, huh?
Even more treacherous that the Romanov disregard for nomenclature or established family norms was the sheer volume of jewellery Sergei lavished upon his wife of legendary beauty. For your Blog Hostess, the dainty detail and meticulous scroll-work on this parure is the beauty of legend. There has been much speculation as to the provenance of the parure and most agree it’s probably Fabergé. How could it not be? Fabergé hasn’t been dubbed the Russian Masters for the fun of it. Those festoons and bows are so delicate it seems impossible that they’d be able to hold up those upside-down teardrop aquamaries yet there they float, above a sea of diamond-set flowers and garlands. Trés bien, Fabergé! I’ll take one! The parure also included a necklace, bracelet and earrings. Upon closer inspection it would appear that the bracelet and necklace are also Fabergé, they feature all the trademark details that make Fabergé, well, Fabergé.
The expression ‘unfortunately’ doesn’t seem adequate when stating that someone lost their life in the Bolshevik Revolution but there’s your unadorned fact for the day. Since Ella and Sergei had no children the parure was handed down to Ella’s brother, Ernst Ludwig (or ‘Ernest Louis’ if you prefer to Anglicization) the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstat. In 1937 the last Grand Duke of Hesse passed away, leaving the Hesse Aquamarines to his younger son Ludwig. Since we all know how psyched dudes get when they receive a matching set of priceless gems, it’s no surprise that Ludwig of Hesse gave the parure to his first cousin once-removed (whatever that means) in 1959. Princess Dorothea of Hesse received the parure as a gift in honor of her wedding. *let’s not hate her for it*
The same Princess Dorothea sold the parure at auction at Sotheby’s London on October 10, 1996. We have no idea who the buyer was, however said anonymous lucky bastard may or may not have loaned the tiara to Versace a year later. There are no photos of anyone wearing the Fabergé masterpiece. A closer look at the below-left wedding photo may lead you to believe Ernst’s bride is wearing the tiara, however both the Grand Duke’s first and second marriages took place before 1918.
if you enjoyed this, you’re sure to dig:
- Fabergé Laurel Wreath Tiara
- Fabergé Cyclamen Tiara
- the 1903 Winter Ball
- Ena’s Aquamarine Tiara
- Aquamarine Bandeau of Luxembourg
- the Cyclops (aka the Aquamarine Bandeau of Sweden)
- Queen Elizabeth’s Aquamarine Broach & Bracelet