Rapaport Magazine
Style & Design

Crowning glories

Antique and vintage tiaras offer a sense of tradition and a touch of royalty, says Guy Burton, director of Hancocks London.

By Phyllis Schiller

What is the appeal of a tiara? Has desirability grown?

We’ve definitely seen a significant rise in interest in tiaras over the last couple of years, both from the UK and internationally. I think part of the desirability is the feeling of tradition and history a vintage or antique tiara brings. It is a significant jewel, and often a significant investment, and carries with it a certain gravitas that is appealing to so many at the moment.

Maisons like Chaumet are still releasing tiaras. Why would collectors prefer the antique versions?

New and antique tiaras will appeal to different people for different reasons, in the same way all antique versus modern jewelry does. I think for collectors, it is the history, traditional craftsmanship, old-cut stones, and often the provenance that comes with an antique piece that make them so attractive. Modern pieces simply can’t offer this.

Which styles are most popular? Is the royal connection a strong factor?

I think all tiara styles are wearable today; it all depends on the individual person. Floral styles are popular. Tiaras that are convertible will always have added appeal because they offer versatility of wear, whether it’s transforming into a necklace, bracelet, or a set of brooches or clips. This offers more opportunities to wear the piece, a real plus point for some people. Interesting provenance will always add appeal to a tiara — and yes, a royal connection is the very best provenance we could hope for. Our magnificent Anglesey tiara has a fascinating history and was worn to two coronations: that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, as well as her father King George VI’s in 1937. A royal connection appeals to clients both at home and abroad.

Are there fit/style considerations to keep in mind when selecting a tiara?

We would advise clients to think not only about initial comfort, but also about weight, particularly if it’s going to be worn for many hours at a time. We would also recommend thinking about the scale and proportions of the tiara and whether it suits the individual. If choosing a tiara especially for a wedding, consider the style of the dress and whether they complement each other, how the tiara will work with a veil if you’re wearing one, and how you will wear your hair on the day.

How do you choose what to stock?

We look at aspects such as design, craftsmanship and the condition of any tiara we are considering adding to our collection. History and provenance will be taken into account, as well as the overall feel and character of the tiara, and of course, how comfortable it is to wear. We’ve been lucky enough to have some truly magnificent tiaras pass through our hands over the years, but one that we currently have in our collection that is special to us is a turn-of-the-century diamond leaf tiara we first sold over 100 years ago. It recently found its way back to us like an old friend, and we’re now able to offer it for sale again and find it another home, hopefully for another 100 or so years.

Who is Guy Burton?Guy Burton is director of UK-based jeweler Hancocks London, which began more than 170 years ago. He manages the bespoke process and contemporary side of the business. A specialist in diamonds and precious gemstones, he is responsible for sourcing them from the international market. He works in partnership with the company’s craftspeople as part of the design process.


Image: Hancocks London

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - September 2022. To subscribe click here.

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