The Smedmore Tiara - Diamond Tiara
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This nineteenth-century tiara in old-cut stones was a gift to Lady Colin Campbell from her late aunt Marjorie Panton, nee Smedmore. Known as the Smedmore Tiara, it is set in silver, the backing intricately worked in keeping with the practice of the time.
In those days, for the purposes of jewellery, silver was as desirable as gold, whose primary function remained coinage and bullion. The result is that many of the royal and aristocratic jewels from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are set in silver, and indeed as late as the turn of the last century master jewellers like Faberge still used silver with what might seem to us to be surprising frequency. Nevertheless, HAUTE JOAILLERIE recommends that any contemporaneous version of this piece be made in white gold.
The stones in this tiara are foil-backed, like the Crown of England, the reason being that old-cut diamonds catch the light differently from new-cut diamonds. Foil-backed jewels, however, are more difficult to clean than open-backed pieces, and there is no reason why a contemporary version of this tiara could not be made with new-cut diamonds set in an open-backed white gold setting.
"Several of my friends' daughters have worn this tiara at their weddings," Lady Colin Campbell says. "It is a real classic, delicate and imposing at the same time, without tipping into the heaviness that characterized many tiaras later in that (the 19th) century. It is even beautiful during the day. I know this because I had the great pleasure of seeing a friend's daughter who was marrying an American Senator's son in Jamaica step out of the car into the blazing sun at four o'clock in the afternoon a few years ago. When the sunshine caught the diamonds, there was an audible gasp from the assembled guests. It was a magical moment. But then, it is a magical piece of jewellery. And though it is clearly an antique, it has not become old-fashioned and irrelevant-looking with the passage of time, but has remained as exquisite as the day it was made."
A similar tiara set in the nineteenth century manner using white gold and old-cut diamonds of good quality and similar size starts at £825,000. If new-cut diamonds are used in an open-backed setting, the tiara would start at £1,350,000.
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From Lady Colin Campbell in Association with Haute Joaillerie