The most desirable are the more wearable and delicate versions and particularly those that convert well to necklaces. It has given a lease of life to a much-admired but somewhat redundant form.
Henry Bailey, Christie’s head of jewellery in London, says: “We have noted an increased interest. There are a variety of collectors interested in acquiring tiaras, notably clients in Asia and America.
“Often these are private individuals purchasing a tiara for the first time, perhaps for a wedding or particular upcoming occasion, but buyers also include jewellery connoisseurs who wish to crown their collections with fine examples that may also hold aristocratic provenance or historical importance.
“We also see buyers collecting tiaras of various styles to be exhibited in private exhibition spaces.”
Four period tiaras were offered as part of Christie’s May 27 sale of the collection of the late Lord and Lady Swaythling (see Auction Reports this week for full report).
Most of the 40 jewellery lots in the sale were either gifts from David Montagu, 4th Lord Swaythling (1928-98) to his wife, Ninette Montagu, née Dreyfus (d.2021), or inherited through the Montagu line.
All four tiaras sold – including one of Belle Epoque garland design, with old-cut, cushion-shaped and rose-cut diamonds, c.1905. A photo of Lady Swaythling wearing it formed part of the cataloguing, helping it to £60,000 against an estimate of £15,000- 20,000.
An early 20th century German tiara fashioned as a wreath of myrtle leaves set with cushion-shaped, old single and rose-cut diamonds and natural pearls was signed Koch.
The tiara was made c.1905. Koch was founded in Frankfurt in 1879 by Robert Koch and made jewellery for princely houses in Germany as well as to European aristocracy. Estimated at £80,000-120,000, it hammered down at £110,000.
A pair of 19th century flower brooches was another popular lot. Made c.1870 with old cushion and pear-shaped diamonds, a fitting allowed the two brooches to be worn together. With a leather fitted case, the pair sold for £35,000 against an estimate of £15,000-20,000.