Queen Elizabeth II's Top Ten Sparkling Tiaras

Queen Elizabeth II is reported to have one of the largest jewelry collections in private ownership, which has been added to over successive generations of royalty to reflect the monarchy's longevity.

The tiara holds a special place in the royal jewelry collection. Perhaps more so than any other jewel at the queen's disposal, apart from a crown, the tiara is the most potent symbol of royal status, worn for state and special occasions.

Rarely, the queen loans some of her most precious items of jewelry to members of her family. Unlike some of the European monarchies whose jewels are held in a trust or fund, the queen's private jewels remain in her control and are loaned at her discretion. Tiaras are loaned extremely rarely on the occasion of a royal wedding or a state banquet.

From her iconic Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara to her lesser known, but no less spectacular, Brazilian aquamarine diadem, the queen has in her possession some of the grandest and most sparkling tiaras in the world.

Here, Newsweek looks at just ten of the British monarch's most glittering head ornaments.

Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara is so called because it was paid for by members of that group as a wedding present for the queen's grandmother, Queen Mary.

Queen Elizabeth II Girls of GB&I Tiara
The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara was given to Queen Mary as a wedding present and she in turn gave it to her granddaughter, Elizabeth II, in 1947. Photographed during a state visit to Berlin on June 24, 2015. Michael Ukas/Pool /Getty Images

Mary was an avid jewel collector and constantly remodeled and adapted her pieces throughout her life. This tiara had a base added and could be worn either as a closed circlet or an open tiara.

In 1947, Mary gave the tiara to her granddaughter Elizabeth as a wedding present and since then it has been worn more times than any of her other tiaras.

Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara

Queen Alexandra, the wife of Queen Victoria's eldest son, Edward VII, was presented with a grand tiara of diamond bars arranged in the Russian kokoshnik style in 1888 by 365 peeresses as a silver wedding anniversary present.

Queen Elizabeth II Kokoshnik Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II inherited her great-grandmother Queen Alexandra's kokoshnik tiara in 1953 and has worn it regularly since. Photographed June 25, 1990 on a visit to Iceland. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Alexandra was known for her highly fashionable taste and the tiara echoed one owned by her sister, the Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, mother of the last czar, Nicholas II.

Alexandra left the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary, from whom Elizabeth II inherited it after her death in 1953.

Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara

Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia was, at the time of the Russian Revolution, one of the wealthiest members of the imperial royal family, with an enormous jewelry collection.

When the she had to flee St Petersburg during the revolution she left her enormous collection of jewels hidden in a safe which were then later smuggled out of the country in two gladstone bags by a British diplomat.

Queen Elizabeth Vladimir Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II's Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara can be worn with interchangeable pearl and emerald drops. Photographed at a diplomatic reception on December 11, 2019. Victoria Jones/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The grand duchess died before she was reunited with the jewels and her daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece decided to sell some pieces in the 1920s. Queen Mary was an enthusiastic buyer of the grand duchess' most famous tiara, made by Bolin in the form of diamond loops with swinging pearls.

Mary had the tiara altered to accommodate swinging emerald pendants that were interchangeable with the pearl ones and when she died in 1953 the piece was inherited by her granddaughter Elizabeth II.

Queen Mary's Diamond and Pearl Lover's Knot Tiara

Queen Mary had a diamond and pearl lover's knot tiara made in the 1920s to replicate a much older piece owned by her beloved aunt, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Born a British princess, a daughter of George III's son Adolphus Duke of Cambridge, the grand duchess' jewel was known as the Cambridge Lover's knot tiara.

Mary's modern version was made of older stones in her collection and became one of her most worn pieces in later years.

Princess Diana Pearl Tiara
Princess Diana has become synonymous with Queen Mary's diamond and pearl lover's knot tiara, which was loaned to her upon her marriage to the Prince of Wales. Since then the tiara has been worn by Kate Middleton. Photographed November 11, 1985. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Elizabeth II inherited the tiara in 1953 and wore it on a few occasions during the early years of her reign. It has become most closely associated with Princess Diana, who was loaned the tiara during the course of her marriage to Prince Charles.

The piece is now worn by Kate Middleton to state banquets and diplomatic receptions.

Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara

Queen Mary owned a number of fringe tiaras but the one that has come to have most significance was made in 1913 from a diamond necklace given to her as a wedding present by Queen Victoria.

Queen Elizabeth II Wedding Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II wore her grandmother, Queen Mary's fringe tiara on her wedding day. Photographed at Buckingham Palace in London on November 20, 1947. Central Press/Getty Images

In 1947, Mary loaned this tiara to her granddaughter Elizabeth to wear at her wedding to Prince Philip. As the bride was getting ready to leave for Westminster Abbey the tiara broke on its frame and the diamond spikes flopped loose. The crown jeweler was sent for to make a quick repair and all was well by the time the vows were made.

The queen loaned the tiara to her daughter Princess Anne for her marriage in 1973 and also to her granddaughter Princess Beatrice for her wedding in 2020.

Sapphire Tiara

There are few tiaras in the queen's collection which she has purchased or had made for herself but one of these is a sapphire and diamond example which was originally a necklace.

Queen Elizabeth II Sapphire Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II purchased a sapphire tiara to match a suite of jewels given to her by her father King George VI. Photographed March 27, 1996. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The queen added the tiara to her collection some time in the 1960s and it is reported to have provenance dating back to a nineteenth century Belgian princess.

The queen wears the tiara with a suite of sapphire and diamond jewels given to her by her father as presents during his lifetime. These jewels date back to the time of Queen Victoria.

Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara

In 1953 the people of Brazil made a gift of diamond and aquamarine jewels to Queen Elizabeth II to mark her coronation. Throughout the early years of her reign more aquamarines and diamonds were given on special occasions such as state visits and eventually the queen had the crown jewelers adapt some of them to form a grand modern tiara.

Queen Elizabeth II Aquamarine Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II's aquamarine tiara was made from gifts of stones from the people of Brazil. Photographed in Perth, Australia, on October 28, 2011. RON D'RAINE/AFP via Getty Images/ROB GRIFFITH/AFP via Getty Images

One of the most impressive tiaras in terms of design, the piece has become a favorite of the queen in recent decades having been worn to numerous important state occasions.

Burmese Ruby Tiara

Another piece that the queen commissioned herself, the Burmese ruby tiara was made during the 1970s from an older tiara given to the queen as a wedding present in 1947.

Queen Elizabeth II Ruby Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II's ruby tiara is made in the design of roses. Photographed during the state visit of U.S. President Donald Trump on June 3, 2019. ALASTAIR GRANT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The new tiara was made in a rose design and features rubies and diamonds. The tiara is one of the most modern pieces in the queen's collection and was made by Garrard's.

Cartier Halo Tiara

The Cartier halo tiara was given to Elizabeth II as an eighteenth birthday present by her parents.

The piece was originally bought by George VI as an anniversary gift for his wife Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) in 1936.

Kate Middleton Wedding Tiara
The Cartier halo tiara was given to the queen as a birthday present by her parents. Kate Middleton was loaned the tiara for her wedding to Prince William at Westminster Abbey in London on April 29, 2011. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The queen has not been publicly photographed wearing the tiara but during the 1950s loaned it to her sister, Princess Margaret, and in 2011 loaned it to Kate Middleton to wear on her wedding day.

Queen Mary's Bandeau

Queen Mary kept abreast of modern fashion when it came to jewelry and in 1932 had a special modern bandeau tiara made to accommodate a large central diamond brooch that had been presented to her by the County of Lincoln in 1893 as a wedding present.

Meghan Markle Wedding Tiara Queen Mary Bandeau
The queen loaned Meghan Markle Queen Mary's diamond bandeau tiara for her wedding to Prince Harry. Photographed at St. George's Chapel in Windsor, England on May 19, 2018. Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Mary wore the tiara throughout the 1930s and also loaned it to her glamorous daughter-in-law Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.

The queen inherited the tiara in 1953 and it was not seen again until 2018 when it appeared on the head of Meghan Markle when she married Prince Harry at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

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