it sparkles like all hell but nary a diamond in it!
Behold a tiara with no sparkly baubles at all! The Steel Cut Tiara is made of–this is a stretch–highly polished steel and set with golden embellishments in the shape of flowers, feathers, oak leaves and acorns. Feathers and acorns aren’t really common tiara themes, making this baby even more unique. Not a single stone in it, but golly does it glimmer! Don’t believe me? Think steel only has its place in Pittsburgh? Originally designed for candle-lit tiara events, the light dances off the polished facets in a way that suggests the scintillation of diamonds.
Watch the way it glitters when the camera zooms in on the Crown Princess’ head.
You really must see it in motion to truly appreciate the shimmery sparkle. And sparkle is the whole reason we’re here…or at least why I’m here.
A tiara so important that it’s postage-stamp worthy.
Just like cameo tiaras, steel tiaras are pretty unique. Steel tiaras were popular from the First French Empire through the Victorian Era. A modest, yet interesting material, polished steel provided an alternative for those who wanted a tiara but couldn’t necessarily afford something gem-encrusted. On the other hand, the Steel Cut tiara isn’t “slumming it.” It’s nothing at which to turn up your nose. Steel was considered a valuable material in its own right and plus very few artisans who had mastered this time-consuming process to shape and polish the facets to give the brilliance of diamonds.
The Steel Cut Tiara is also know as the Napoleonic Steel Cut Tiara because–you guessed right!–it was brought to Sweden by Josephine II. Like the Cameo, Leuchtenberg Sapphires, the Napoleonic Amethysts, the Steel Cut would appear to be another tiara that originated with Josephine I (aka Empress Josephine). Apparently, this tiara’s story is a bit different; it was made for Queen Hortense of Holland, Josephine II’s aunt. Perhaps Josie’s Aunt Hortense gave it to her as (yet another) wedding gift. I am remiss to wonder whether “How many tiaras does one bride need?” should be a rhetorical question or not.
We’ve all lost something in our closets. My favorite hooded shirt, my only clutch purse, or that right sneaker. How does a girl lose only one sneaker? Don’t ask. The Steel Cut Tiara suffered a similar fate. It was off the radar for decades and then appeared on Queen Silvia’s head in 1979 at an Austrian state visit. (See two center pictures above.) Once married to Karl XVI Gustaf, Silvia began rooting around in most-likely cluttered cupboards and cabinets and found the Steel Cut tucked away in a drawer! Those cupboards had to be a disaster area because who the hell loses a tiara? Who the hell loses one shoe? Touché…
The tiara actually has matching earrings and a choker, making it the Steel Cut Demi-Parure technically. The earrings and choker are rarely seen. The left photo is from over 20 years ago, Silvia wore it during a state visit to Iceland. (The right photo, that annoying text across her eyes regardless, is much more recent.)
After its “rediscovery” it was also spotted atop the heads of Princesses Lillian and Christina, King Karl XVI Gustav’s sisters.
I’ve often read complaints about the Steel Cut, It’s weird-looking. I don’t like the feather motif. (I like it, but to each their own. The feathery overgrowth in the center reminds me of the Peacock-tail Ruby Tiara of the Netherlands. Only difference is this bouquet of plumes is not removable as it is on the Ruby Peacock.
So we’re mostly accustomed to seeing the Steel Cut Tiara on Crown Princess Victoria. It is very much one of her go-to tiaras, especially at the Nobel Prizes.
In fact, I’ve heard many complain that they don’t find it to be a flattering tiara on anyone save the crown princess. I’m not sure what causes this phenomenon. I think the shades of brass, steel and gold compliment her skin tone, hair and eyes. Facts are facts: Vicky rocks the Steel Cut.
What do you think? Awesomely original or ugly and outdated. How about just plain weird?
Anyone else tempted to clean out the kitchen junk drawer to see if there’s some antique, Napoleonic jewellery? Stranger things have happened.