Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Crown Jewels: What the Queen Wears

It is no secret that the Queen of England has one of the most impressive collection of jewelry in the world. Whether she is wearing a beautiful brooch, a jewel-encrusted tiara, or a bedazzled bracelet, Queen Elizabeth II knows how to accessorize. Interestingly, most of the pieces that she wears have spectacular stories, too. As the Queen of England, Elizabeth gets to wear tiaras to signify her position in the world. For those of us who do not get to wear tiaras on a regular basis, here is a little background on the different types of headpieces the Queen gets to wear:

A tiara is a headpiece that does not have the same weight and heft of a crown. It is often semi-circular in shape, worn to a formal occasion, and circles a majority of the head. Tiaras also are generally covered in jewels. If the tiara is a full circle, then it is technically called a circlet.

A crown is an ornamental headpiece that belongs to a king, queen, or other form of similar leader. The crown will usually be circular and will have arches. They are often decorated with jewels that have some significance in the country’s history and in the monarchy’s family.

A diadem is another term used to refer to headpieces worn by royalty. The two words diadem and tiara are synonyms, but the term diadem is more grandiloquent than tiara. For example, most people do not talk about prom queens wearing a diadem. It is truly a piece that is meant to be worn by an important person.

A bandeau is a type of headband that is somewhat like a tiara. They are highly bejeweled. They tend to be relatively the same height from the edges to the top. A tiara and circlet will have different levels in height, but the bandeau will not. It is much more subtle, but no less beautiful of a piece of jewelry than a tiara.

The kokoshnik is not native to England or other European monarchies. It originate in Russia and has been a part of their traditional costumes for centuries. Queen Elizabeth has a beautiful, highly jeweled Kokoshnik that was given to Queen Alexandra. It is a headpiece that is taller than a tiara that reaches a crescendo at the center apex of the piece. Queen Amidala from the Star Wars series often wears headdresses that would be categorized as Kokoshnik pieces. These pieces can be designed simply or they can be heavily and ornately designed so they cover all of the hair, the ears, and much of the back of the neck.

The aigrette is a type of ornamentation that is not a crown, but more of a tiny tiara. It does not necessarily have to circle the head. They often have feathers. These were popular during the Roaring ‘20s and resemble something that would be worn by Daisy in The Great Gatsby. They are much smaller than a tiara and often look more like a fancy barrette or other form of hair decoration.

A parure is a set of jewels that usually includes a necklace, tiara, earrings, and other pieces. They are often designed to have similar jewels in the same patterns. The complete set usually also includes a brooch, bracelet, and possibly even a ring, with all of the other pieces. These are usually only reserved for royalty and are often given as gifts for major life events, like a coronation, a major birthday, or a wedding. When they are named, they often include the country of the origin of the jewels or of the owner of the piece. The parure does not need to include a tiara to be an officially named parure.

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