Battle of the Tiaras – Cartier Early 20th Century Design

Between 1912 and 1915 Cartier designed a series of kokoshnik-shaped tiaras incorporating unusual and dramatic materials, such as platinum, blackened steel, onyx, and rock crystal, all embellished with diamonds. Proof positive that you can combine diamonds with just about anything, or at least Cartier could.

Henri Picq, Cartier’s main supplier, was considered the premier artist in platinum jewelry work. Charles Jacqueau designed a series of crystal tiaras for Cartier during the same period. It was an exciting and creative time.

Take a walk through these fine examples of late Belle Epoque design, and you tell us which one is your favorite.

Blackened Steel Ivy

Blackened Steel and Platinum Tiara, Christies

This blackened steel and platinum tiara is embellished with old-cut diamonds. It dates from 1912-1915 and maker’s mark of Henri Picq. It was most recently sold in November, 2018 at Christie’s auction in Geneva.

Onyx, Diamond and Pearl “Tree” Tiara

Onyx, Diamond and Pearl “Tree” Tiara.

All I can say is that it is criminal that this tiara has never been seen on a human head, much less a royal head. If you can find a photo of someone wearing it, you get honorary hofdame status FOREVER. It’s fun to place it on certain royals, though. It would work as well on a blonde (imagine our Snow Queen Mette-Marit wearing it) or dark hair. This dates to 1914, and is a daring combination of onyx, diamonds and pearls, with a stylized tree design. It is a Cartier house display piece.

Queen Marie’s Blackened Steel Tiara

Queen Marie’s Blackened Steel Tiara

Although commonly referred to as Queen Marie’s Blackened Steel Tiara, there is some debate whether this tiara belonged to her. There are no photographs of her wearing it, and she was a lady who loved wearing her tiaras. This tiara has a blackened steel band, calibre-cut and rose cut diamonds, framed in rubies. It was made to order in 1914 by Cartier, and bears the maker’s mark of Henri Picq.

Ivy Leaf Blackened Steel Tiara

The Ivy Leaf Blackened Steel Tiara

This 1914 Cartier blackened steel was commissioned by Sir Philip Sassoon. The tiara has the maker’s mark of Henri Picq. It features a wreath of ivy with an aigrette setting in the center.

Yusporov Rock Crystal Tiara

Yusporov Rock Crystal Tiara

Designed by Charles Jacqueau, the rock crystal tiara is decorated with platinum and diamonds. There is a 3.66 carat round diamond as the central element. This beauty was commissioned in 1911 by Prince Felix Yusupov for his wife, Irina Alexandrovna, Tsar Nicholas II’s niece.

de Gunzburg Tiara

de Gunzburg Tiara

This tiara of rock crystal panels engraved with arabesques was commissioned in February 1912 for Baron Pierre de Gunzburg. The tiara features a rose cut diamond base, navette cut diamond center, and a circular cut diamond gallery.

Which Cartier do you favor?