The Diamond Diadem or sometimes the “George IV State Diadem” is made up of 1,333 round, oval and cushion-cut diamonds, set into what was then the “new transparent style” of setting made of silver layered with gold. This new innovation in tiara framework sits a top a sandwich base: two bands of cultured white pearls on either side of even more brilliant-cut diamonds. The Diamond Diadem is only 19 inches in circumference, so go measure your melon and decide where you’d wear it. By using the new transparent framework Philip Liebart, chief designer and jewel-setter at Rundell, Bridge & Rundell was able to create each of the intricate “patriotic devices” that alternate between four gently convex crosses-paty. This new symbol combined a rose, a thistle and two shamrocks, the national emblems of England, Scotland and Ireland, respectively. The new motif obviously drew on the Act of Union of 1800 which gave rise to the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland. Less glaring today was George IVs choice to omit the fleur-de-lys from the English regalia. Guess they finally came to terms with the fact that they had no claim to the French throne as it no longer existed. Nature refusing to be outdone by such meticulous craftsmanship, the central cross-paty centers arounds a 4-carat pale yellow diamond. The Diamond Diadem was created for the coronation of George IV. In 1840, the order was placed with the court jewelers, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. The commission was completed in May of the same year. [you go, RB&R! Tiaras.yeah! ]
The bill came to £290 for the setting which frankly sounds cheap even for almost 200 years ago. The truth most curious is that the 1,333 brilliants used to fill said frame were rented and that ran him £800. The terms of the loan were such that George IV returned them after the coronation. It was customary for the coronation jewels to be rented. It’s comforting to know everybody’s got an opulence limit. Curoisly, it did not seem George returned the stones. A much heftier bill appeared in the Privy Purse Accounts totalling £8,216. George settled his tab for both diamonds and diadem by bartering older stones from his personal, bottomless hoard of precious jewels. Why weren’t they good enough to fill the diadem frame? As most of us have already figured out, George IV was the only male royal to ever wear the Diamond Diadem. It was barely visible beneath a huge, velvet ‘Spanish’ hat and ostrich plume. [barely see above.] Since then only Queen Consorts and Regents have sported this sparkler. Queen Adelaide began the tradition [sans Spanish sack hat] during her husband William IVs reign. Sir David Wilkie painted her wearing the Diamond Diadem and her famous diamond brooch but I’ve yet to find an image with a decent resoluion. So here’s one with crummy resolution. [See right.]
When William IV passed away, Queen Adelaide passed what she saw was crown jewels to Victoria.
Queen Victoria wore the Diamond Diadem frequently until Prince Albert died. The heartbroken monarch wore her widow’s weeds for the rest of her life and shunned much of her jewelry; Albert commemorated every milestone with a gemstone. This included the Diamond Diadem, it reminded the Queen of the blithe days of youth. Over the years, the State Diadem has accommodated slight tweaks for a few queens. First Queen Victoria in 1838. In 1902 & 1937, respectively, Queen Consorts Alexandra and Elizabeth [née Bowes-Leon] both used the official court jeweller Garrad for their tiara tailoring.Funny because when the diadem was commissioned the court jewelers were Rundell, Bridge & Rundell…what leads to a court–jewellery house break-up? The Queen Mum certainly wore the Diamond Diadem, especially considering she had it adjusted, but I cannot find a photo anywhere…nobody else has either. Photos of Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Diamond State Diadem number in the thousands. It is bewildering to the point your Blog Hostess could spend the next eight hours making photo collages. We’ll see how long I last.
Elizabeth first wore the diadem on November 4, 1952, the first time she opened Parliment and has done so every year since.The Queen often wears the Diamond Diadem for official state portraits and it’s the crown used most when recreating her profile on stamp of coin. Of course, her most famous donning of the sparkling circlet is for her coronation. She wore it during the procession to Westminster Abbey.