Tiara Time! the Hesse Aquamarine Tiara

hesse aquamarine tiara

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?

Ella and Alix of Hesse marry Sergei and Nicholas II of Russia

two Hesse-Romanov weddings: (L) Ella and Sergei (R) Alix and Nicholas II

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. Hesse Aquamarine Tiara detailThere 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.

Hesse aquamarine parure

The necklace and bracelet also exhibit those dainty Fabergé adornments. Oh lá lá!

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.

Ernst Ludwig, Ludwig and Dorothea of Hesse

the last three known owners of the Hesse Aquamarines: (L to R) Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig, Hereditary Grand Duke Ludwig and Princess Dorothea of Hesse, none of whom are wearing the tiara.

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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 aquamarine, germanic princely states, tiara time!, weddings and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Tiara Time! the Hesse Aquamarine Tiara

  1. Angelyn says:

    there was a Gianni Versace tiara auctioned a few years back–not sure if that’s the one or something else. Others have blogged on this subject. Your post is the finest!


  2. e1aine says:

    That is a beautiful tiara, the detail is amazing. Unfortunately I can absolutely confirm that when it went to the mysterious buyer, it sadly wasn’t me.


  3. Titanic Buff says:

    Beautiful tiara. To be frank, I would look awful in a tiara, but that one would be so tempting to wear!

    But on a more wishful note – it is a fact that the unknown owner LOST the tiara this year and it is now languishing between your couch cushions. Hey, it’s worth a look. 😉


  4. aubrey says:

    Such an ethereal little piece. I love the scrollwork waving in the air like tiny, golden tendrils. And the color! So pure, yet so delicate as to practically not be there at all.


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  6. Fascinating, as always. I’m also put in mind of Liza Minnelli’s song, Liza with a Z, not Lisa with an S, which I could, once upon a time, sing from start to finish without tripping over the words.


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  9. Lady says:

    I love this one but I don’t care for the necklace or bracelet.

    Liked by 1 person

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

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