Crown Jewels: A Peek Into How Royals And Celebrities Get Wed
Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Elizabeth was just 21 in 1947 when she tied the knot with a young Royal Navy first lieutenant with royal blood, Philip Mountbatten, who was created Duke of Edinburgh just before they wed.
At one of the most talked-about weddings of the time, the princess wore a long-sleeved satin dress adorned with 10,000 pearls and a four-metre train, as well as the diamond Fringe Tiara by Garrard. During the festivities, she also donned a 1930s Cartier suite that includes a 38-diamond necklace and a tiara with three detachable rose brooches.
Duchess of Cambridge
The Duchess of Cambridge turns heads wherever she goes, but never was she so captivating as on her wedding day. As she walked down the aisle to Prince William at Westminster Abbey in 2011, all eyes were on the bride’s elegant ensemble: an Alexander McQueen dress designed by Sarah Burton, a hand-embroidered veil and a magnificent tiara.
Crafted by Cartier, the 1936 Halo Tiara was originally purchased by the Duke of York and borrowed for the occasion from the queen’s private collection. Made of platinum, the stunning headdress scatters light from 739 brilliant-cut diamonds, 149 baguette-cut diamonds, and intricate petal motifs.
Princess Grace of Monaco
When Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956, it was deemed the wedding of the century. The Philadelphia-born actress was the very definition of bridal: she donned a tight-waisted, long-sleeved lace gown topped off with a Juliet Cap veil and her 10.48-carat emerald-cut Cartier engagement ring.
As a wedding gift, Prince Rainier gave his bride a three-strand Cartier diamond necklace and the Bains de Mer Tiara set with a mix of round and baguette-cut diamonds and three detachable floral brooches with polished cabochon rubies.
Empress Marie Louise Bonaparte
Chaumet, founded by Marie-Étienne Nitot in 1780, was appointed Napoleon Bonaparte’s official jeweller in the early 1800s and designed his coronation crown, sword hilt and countless gifts for his first wife, Josephine.
His second wife, Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria, whom Napoleon married at the Louvre Chapel in 1810, received two elaborate sets of jewels, each comprising a tiara, a necklace, a pair of earrings and a comb, as wedding gifts. One was made of luminous opals and diamonds; the other shone with emeralds and diamonds, with 32 emeralds in the necklace alone.
Princess Marie Bonaparte
Napoleon had a great-grandniece, Princess Marie Bonaparte, who made a name for herself as a psychological and sexuality researcher connected with Sigmund Freud. When Marie married Prince George of Greece and Denmark at a Greek Orthodox ceremony in Athens in 1907, she wore the romantic, elegant Olive Leaf Tiara by Cartier, which sparkles with pavé-set diamond branches and a pear-shaped diamond centrepiece.
A nod to Greek history, the belle époque headpiece gracefully wrapped around her cropped hair for an elegant and timeless result.
Duchess Hedwige de La Rochefoucauld
In 1919, Hedwige de La Rochefoucauld, the daughter of the Duke of Doudeauville, tied the knot in Paris with Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma, the brother of Austria’s Empress Zita. On her wedding day, the duchess wore a special Chaumet diadem.
The platinum and diamond piece glittered with a special fuchsia floral motif and a trompe l’oeil effect creating the appearance of a pear-shaped central diamond.
Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt
It was “the bigger, the better” for Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt when she exchanged vows with the crown prince of Iran in 1939. Ahead of the big day, her mother, Queen Nazli of Egypt, commissioned a collection of jewels from Van Cleef & Arpels.
The order included an extraordinary 92-carat tiara, necklace and earrings. The queen ordered a few pieces for herself, too, including an art deco-style, 217-carat necklace featuring 673 diamonds that sold at a 2015 Sotheby’s auction for US$4.3 million.
She might not have been a true blue blood, but the queen of the silver screen boasted an enviable jewellery collection. Day to day, the actress casually wore a 33-carat diamond ring worth US$3.5 million, a gift from her husband, actor Richard Burton. On their wedding day, Taylor donned a platinum and emerald brooch by Bulgari that was also a gift from Burton.
It was as magnificent as Taylor herself—a step-cut Colombian emerald of 23.44 carats surrounded by a halo of brilliant-cut and pear-shaped diamonds. After the wedding, the brooch made its way into a necklace with 16 step-cut emeralds that she wore to collect her Best Actress Oscar at the 1966 Academy Awards.
Empress Farah Diba
Iran’s former royal family owned an extensive collection of rare jewellery, including the Noor-ul-Ain (“the light of the eye”)—a 60-carat oval-shaped rose-pink diamond, an extremely rare Type IIA diamond and among the largest of its kind. The stone was incorporated as the centrepiece of an eponymous tiara designed by Harry Winston.
Farah wore the magnificent headpiece and a Dior dress when she wed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1959. It was no easy feat: The platinum tiara, bearing 324 pink, blue, yellow and white diamonds, weighs more than two kilograms.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
The former First Lady of the US began dating Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis a few years after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. When Onassis proposed, he presented her a stunning 40.42-carat marquise Lesotho III diamond engagement ring. The stone was cleaved by Harry Winston from an incredible 601-carat rough diamond discovered in South Africa.
After Jackie said yes, Onassis continued to spoil his bride-to-be with wedding gifts, including a pair of Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond earrings and a matching ring. After sitting in a bank vault for decades, the Lesotho III engagement ring sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 1996 for US$2.59 million.