Tiara from the Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration exhibition
Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration

Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara

R. & S. Garrard & Co., 1888
Diamonds, white and yellow gold
6.5 × 18.5 cm

The kokoshnik is a traditional Russian folk headdress, which takes the form of a stiff halo covered with fabric to which sparkling ornaments are applied. It was adopted by the imperial family in the nineteenth century and was the inspiration for the new style of sumptuous heavily jewelled tiaras worn at court from the mid-century onwards. The family ties between the Russian and British royal families ensured that the Russian style was keenly adopted in the West, where the kokoshnik tiara became fashionable in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This example was made for Alexandra, Princess of Wales, sister of Empress Maria Feodorovna, consort of Tsar Alexander III of Russia. It was presented for her 25th wedding anniversary in 1888 by the ‘Ladies of Society’.

Each bar is pavé-set with brilliant-cut diamonds, set in white and yellow gold. Like tiaras of a similar design, it could also be worn as a necklace. Queen Alexandra wore it on many occasions, notably for the marriage of the Duke of York (later King George V) to Princess Victoria Mary of Teck in 1893.

It was bequeathed to The Queen in 1953.