Today we feature our first Canadian tiara ever. Not to offend our neighbors to the North but that’s not even the mind-blowing part. It’s a tiara that could actually pique the interest of both you and dad/husband. What is it about dads & their love for books about war? Especially any war preceded by the word “great” or ending in a Roman numeral? No, neither Winston Churchill nor Dwight D. Eisenhower ever wore it, but who wouldn’t pay to see five-star Ike sporting this while debriefing the president? Heh. Where’s Mel Brooks when you need him?
Above sparkling halo and her owner, Montreal socialite Lady Marguerite Allan, were both on the Lusitania when it was torpedoed by a U-boat in 1915.
Lady Allan (above) was married to Hugh Allan, a banker and ship enthusiast. Most crucially, Sir Hugh commissioned this lovely bandeau tiara in 1909. A Cartier masterfully executed in an open-work Greek key design, that tiara motif we never see too far away from the verb meander: a reference to its flowing, winding style.
The tiara’s band, made of platinum and gold, is millegrain-set with 30 total-carats of near flawless circular-cut diamonds, bordered top and bottom with seed pearls. The centerpiece is a detachable, cushion-shaped diamond weighing in at 3.3 carats. Cut in the old miners’ fashion, the diamond is as near-flawless as her little sisters that frame her.
When appraised for auction, Sotheby’s described the seed pearls as “well-matched in color, with good skin and luster.” Well don’t they know how to flatter with fancy words like good? The auction house also speculated that the tiara frame was made later, but your Blog Hostess thinks they mean that cushy base. The large diamond was rated in the envious F-G color, while the millegrain diamonds averaged G-I in color. But that’s just for the detail-oriented of us readers.
The tiara survived [obviously, duh] the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 along with Lady Allen and her two maids, Emily Davis and Annie Walker, one of whom had bundled the tiara on her person. Upon her rescue, the maid returned the tiara to Lady Allan. Unfortunately, her ladyship’s two daughters, Anna and Gwendolyn drowned when the group of women became separated. Lady Allan was severely hurt when a lifeboat fell on her. The unfortunate Marguerite outlived all of her children as she lost her son in the Great War.
The tiara has been called a remarkable example of wartime Canadian art. It was auctioned at Sotheby’s in October of 2015 for just over a million dollars.