August has spinel and peridot as its birth stones and although we'll end the month with a look at some regal examples of those stones, there aren't enough to fill a whole four weeks of sparkly wonder. So this summer, we're taking a look at some of the tiaras that just don't fit anywhere else in the calendar of jewels including some of those made mainly of metal. Yes, metal. We've had a look at some of the golden additions to the modern European sparkle stash and now it's time to get really, well, metally, and start on the steel. Sweden has two tiaras made of the stuff and they're both rather pretty. Here's a sparkle fest you weren't expecting, Steel for August.
The biggest and, in my opinion, best of the metal tiaras currently doing the round in Europe is the Cut Steel version seen in Sweden. This is a favourite right now of Crown Princess Victoria and on her head, sparkling away at major events, you would never guess that this diadem is a diamond free zone.
The Cut Steel Tiara does what it says on the tin, all puns intended. It's made of steel, cut and polished to sparkle like a jewel encrusted diadem. The material was popular in the early 18th century for women who couldn't afford the diamonds and friends spectaculars that usually constitute tiaras and found a great vogue in the Napoleonic era which is where this beauty began its royal journey.
It first belonged to Queen Hortense of Holland, the only daughter of the Empress Josephine by her first marriage. Mummy's second hubby was, of course, Napoleon. He arranged a marriage between his brother, Louis, and Hortense and then went on to make them King and Queen of Holland. Hortense gave it to her niece, Josephine of Leuchtenberg, who ended up Queen of Sweden through her marriage to Oscar I who was the son of another of Napoleon's loves. This tiara comes with a backdrop that would put a romantic novel to shame.
But for all its evocation of empire, it became a sleeping partner in the rather impressive Swedish royal jewellery box - perhaps because the family have such a cracking set of sparklers to choose from. However, in 1979 it twinkled back into sight when Queen Silvia wore it on a State Visit having apparently found it while having a good old rummage at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. It only goes to prove that there can be advantages to housework.
Since then it's become a bit of a favourite and is most often seen on Crown Princess Victoria. It's central feature is a plume of feathers, surrounded by oak leaves and acorns atop a row of cut steel flowers. There's a bit of brass in there to add colour and the end result is a terrific tiara with plenty of originality. But why stop at one steel tiara when you can have two? The Swedish Royal Family also owns a smaller, bandeau style diadem which has been worn by Victoria and Princess Sofia. It, too, first belonged to Hortense and spent over a century hidden away.
It's much simpler, made up of a lattice of cut steel topped with a row of little studs that can't help but sparkle whichever way they move. It's pretty if slightly underwhelming, a tiara for a rainy day if ever there was one.
Steel doesn't feature in other royal collections, making these two tiaras unique but all the more interesting for that. And in the case of the biggie, it's become so much of a go to for Victoria that it's even been featured on stamps. It's an emblem of this popular royal, another layer of history for a tiara with a special regal story of its own.