Diadems, tiaras, power and love


20th-century tiara by Chaumet. Photo courtesy of Chaumet

Chaumet presents an exhibition on the art of the diadem in Monaco, displaying fabulous head jewels the French high jewellery house has created for empresses, queens and princesses since 1780.

The curators of the exhibition are two experts on royal courts, the journalist Stéphane Bern and the jewel historian Christophe Vachaudez. They divided the 250 head jewellery pieces into six major themes, to take you on a journey through the history of this symbol of power, from the 18th century to today.

All the pieces displayed at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, under the patronage of Prince Albert II, come from Chaumet’s collections, museums, private collections and great European families.



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Several diadems were made to be worn in different ways, becoming a choker, necklace, bracelets and brooches. Transformable jewellery shows the exceptional craftsmanship and virtuosity of Chaumet. One of these tiaras on display was designed to be also worn as a long necklace or choker. As the generations passed by, the family members forgot the different ways to wear this jewel. Chaumet reveals them once again in this impressive exhibition.

A symbol of power

Since the ancient Romans and Greeks, sovereigns have worn tiaras as a symbol of power. Napoleon I opens the exhibition, with his gold leave tiara. His wife, Empress Joséphine, was Chaumet’s first great client, after her, many European courts followed. Diadems became a symbol of wealth and success of the bourgeoisie as well.



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A symbol of love

During the 19th and 20th centre, it was a tradition for the bride to receive from her future husband a basket full of gifts. The most precious of them was a tiara, the symbol of the union of the two families and the crowning of two people’s love.



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The identity of grand families

Diadems have passed down from one generation to the next in aristocratic families. Some of the tiaras were reworked to suit the style of the time better. Others were made into several pieces to be shared with members of the family, carrying history and memories throughout several generations.



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Today, tiaras are worn in wedding ceremonies and festive occasions, and not only by the nobility. They are a sign of power but also a statement of personal style. Who can ever forget Princess Diana wearing an art-deco emerald and diamond choker across her forehead instead of a traditional tiara, earning the name “Disco Di”?

The exhibition runs until the 28th of August, and you can get tickets here. If you love jewellery and history, don’t miss this opportunity to see the historical pieces and spectacular sets!

Christine Schönburg