A belle époque diamond 'Meander' tiara, by Ansorena,

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Lot 131
A belle époque diamond 'Meander' tiara,
by Ansorena, circa 1900

Sold for £ 162,500 (US$ 213,464) inc. premium
A belle époque diamond 'Meander' tiara, by Ansorena, circa 1900
Formed as a single diadem, the upper band of meandering Greek key motifs, forget-me-not flowers and trailing laurel leaves, representing true love and the triumph of love, the lower band designed as a delicate lacework lattice with central handkerchief motif, set throughout with old brilliant, single and rose-cut diamonds with delicate millegrain detail and knifewire tracery throughout, mounted in platinum, diamonds approximately 33.50 carats total, unsigned, detachable to form two diadems, the lower diadem detaches from its frame to be worn as a choker

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Esperanza Chávarri Aldecoa, Condesa de Villagonzalo (1893-1982)
    Thence by descent

    Exhibited
    National Museum of Decorative Arts, Madrid, 1995

    Literature
    Luna, Juan J, Martín Ansorena, Fernando A & Arbeteta, Letizia, 'Ansorena 150 Anos', Madrid, 1995, No 4 in the catalogue

    The Belle Époque, literally "beautiful era", was a golden age of relative peace and prosperity in the West, stretching from the late 19th century until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. During this time, the upper echelons of society enjoyed a glamorous social life on an opulent and lavish scale. It was not only fashionable for women to festoon themselves like queens, but protocol to wear certain jewels and decorations when attending formal festivities. Thus the tiara, the most majestic of accessories, was a symbol of rank, worn by European royalty and nobility at all court and state occasions and later, an essential item in an aristocratic society lady's wardrobe, worn to private dinners, balls and the opera. The tiara was also a symbol of betrothal and a bride would receive a tiara – sometimes more than one - as a wedding gift to wear during the ceremony and later when she took her place in society as a married woman.

    This "garland style" tiara, by Spanish royal jeweller, Ansorena, is designed as a double diadem that may be detached to form two separate tiaras, one of which is designed to be further converted to form a choker. It is of impeccable workmanship and the elegant Louis XVI design of diamond wreaths and flowers has a lightness and lace-like quality made possible by the technical freedom and innovation of working in platinum; a metal that is as light as it is strong. Jewellers only began to understand how truly to exploit platinum from around 1900, so it is particularly interesting that this tiara is noted in Ansorena's archives as being conceived as early as 1890.

    The tiara was owned by Spanish noblewoman Esperanza Chávarri Aldecoa, Countess of Villagonzalo, wife of Fernando Maldonado Salabert, 8th Count of Villagonzalo. The photograph, circa 1920, shows the Countess in her gala costume at the Royal Palace in Madrid wearing the tiara modishly low over her brow in the manner of an Art Deco bandeau, with a diamond tassel (subsequently lost) at its centre. It was not unusual for valuable tiaras to be adapted as fashions changed. The Countess was a lady-in-waiting of Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Queen Consort of King Alfonso XIII of Spain. Queen Victoria Eugenie also owned splendid jewels by Ansorena; her famous diamond fleur-de-lys tiara is today one of the central pieces in the Spanish Crown Jewels.

    Further reading
    Munn, Geoffrey, "Tiaras: A History of Splendour", Antique Collectors Club Ltd, Woodbridge, 2001
    Scarisbrick, Diana, "Ancestral Jewels", André Deutsch Ltd, London, 1989
Contacts
A belle époque diamond 'Meander' tiara, by Ansorena,
A belle époque diamond 'Meander' tiara, by Ansorena,
A belle époque diamond 'Meander' tiara, by Ansorena,
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