Bentley & Skinner Georgian era-tiara worn-by Lady Mary-in her wedding scene inDownton Abbey,  Above photo courtesy of Bulgari. Photo by Francesco Escalar with model on left wearing, Bulgari gold, diamond, cultured pearl and coral necklace, circa 1969


Over the past several years, tiaras, headbands that have a regal feel, as well as other hair ornaments: diamond combs, clips and barrettes have dressed up the tresses of models on the runway, celebrities on the red carpet and in period films and miniseries. Who can forget the tiara Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary wore on her wedding day, a sublime Georgian jewel, loaned by Bentley & Skinner. It was worn by actress Michelle Dockery, 1920s style, to fit the time period in which the wedding took place. Speaking of the roaring twenties, in 2013 another hair jewel hit the screen, this time the big screen. It was created by Tiffany & Co. in collaboration with costume designer Catherine Martin—a grosgrain ribbon and diamond headband for Baz Luhrmann’s remake of the classic Fitzgerald novel, The Great Gatsby. We saw pearl and diamond ornaments scattered in Brie Larson’s hair when she received her Best Actress Oscar this year.  The new styles of Chaumet, whose history of tiaras dates back to those created during the Napoleonic era, continues through present day. It includes one of the more subdued beauties of the renowned house- a less formal headband style of a wheat motif.

Brie Larson 88th Annual Academy Awards, Arrivals 2016. Photo by Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock




From thle-nature-de-chaumet collection–the wheat diadem









Jewelers are offering more personalization and flexibility when it comes to gems for the hair. Many of the antique styles already offer the versatility of a traditional tiara with moveable parts that transform into clips and combs as well as brooches and pendants.

Originally worn by reigning nobility and then Hollywood royalty—these tiaras and tiara-like pieces are now the jewels in the crown for women who prefer to adorn their heads for special occasions, black tie events and by brides on their wedding day.

Personally I am a huge fan of the signed Fred Leighton contemporary diamond pave´ headband that can be worn alone for just a dash of sparkle and for more dramatic effect, with different antique and vintage brooches attached. A few months ago, I tried it on with a 1950s winged victory brooch. Not only did I wish I led a more glamorous lifestyle but the jewel transported me back to the imaginative aristocracy of my youth.


Signed Fred Leighton contempoary diamond headband shown with winged victory brooch, circa 1950s


Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Photo: Glasshouse Images/Alamy

Like most young girls, I pretended to be a princess. I loved poufy gowns and the color pink, but mostly I was obsessed with tiaras. Unlike that of many young girls, my inspiration came from watching the Late Show Movie on ABC with my grandmother –Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday rather than the animated style of Walt Disney’s Cinderella.

Then, when I was 6 years old, my appendix almost burst. I was rushed to the hospital and straight into surgery. It left me with a scar that was the exact size and shape as the one on Frankenstein’s head. “It will fade,” my mother said as convincingly as possible, but I could not stop looking at it in disbelief. She did the only thing she could think of—she took me shopping. As we passed through the accessories department, I saw a tiara (read: headband) sitting in a glass case in the 59th Street and Lexington Avenue Bloomingdale’s. It was all twinkly and sprinkled with glittering purplish/royal blue rhinestones and Swarovski crystals dripping off of the sides and decorating the top.

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1591033a) My Fair Lady, Audrey Hepburn Film and Television

Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Photo: Rex/Shuttershock

It was the year after I saw Eliza Doolittle transform from a flower girl into a princess on the big screen in My Fair Lady and I believed that this beautiful headpiece would magically erase the scar. Many years later I learned that the ‘jewel’ was what my mother called “a monstrosity, rivaling only Cher’s most ostentatious headdress.” But in the store, she knew she had to get me out without a tantrum and explained: “There is only one and they are holding it for a very important duchess from some far away land. It’s amazing that you chose it. You definitely have royal taste. There must be one as worthy of your style and beauty.” The sales associates brought me a tray of more toned down tiara-like headbands, more befitting a 6-year old. When I was adorned in one that had just a few seed pearls with a tiny floral design and one single tiny diamante teardrop surrounded by a delicate scroll on top, my mother held up a mirror and told me it was me. The scar did fade but the magic I feel whenever I spot ‘less ostentatious’ and elegantly designed tiaras or tiara-like headbands has lingered well into my adulthood. I can’t help but write about them whenever they are newsworthy, and recall the films and stories of the past.

Here are some of the highlights over the last 10-12 years:

-In 2005 Natalie Portman looked regal and elegant in a Fred Leighton 19th century choker mounted in her hair as a diamond headband.

-Then in 2012, Charlize Theron, always chic and on point, wore a diamond Cartier headband to complement her couture Dior gown at the Golden Globes.

-In 2014 Lupita Nyong’o accepted her Academy Award for best actress in a diamond Fred Leighton headband and looked like a modern day Cinderella, animated with joy.

-More recently best actress Oscar recipient Brie Larson wore pearl and diamond hair ornaments by Japanese designer Niwaka, during the 88th Annual Academy Awards. The look was fresh and sublimely feminine.

-The aforementioned Tiffany & Co.’s perfection of a headband in collaboration with Catherine Martin for Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 remake of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic, The Great Gatsby.

Tiffany & Co. Great Gatsby diamond and freshwater cultured pearl headpiece with detachable brooch, inspired by a Native American design in the Tiffany Archives.

-The fall 2016 runway shows featured brooches and clips that decorated models’ hair on the Alexander McQueen and Dolce and Gabbana runways. These are perfectly placed to seem haphazard.

alexander mcqueen

Photo courtesy of Alexander McQueen

This trend toward hair jewels had deep roots in the past. Many Georgian and Regent parures were replete with fittings that allowed necklaces to adapt into combs, clips and tiara-like headpieces. Designers got creative again in the early to mid-twentieth century. And who better than to understand and purchase these pieces than Hollywood’s royalty.

On the day of their wedding in 1939, Alexander Korda gave Merle Oberon three Cartier diamond and gold roses, which she wore in the 1940 film Till We Meet Again. In the opening scene Oberon wears the three rose brooches clipped to her suit. Later in the film, she wears them as a necklace. In 1942, she was spotted by the press, while out to dinner with her husband, wearing the three clips in her hair.

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Merle Oberon’s floral diamond hair clips by Cartier. Photo: Cartier

One of Gina Lollobrigida’s favorite pieces from Bulgari in the 1950s was a scroll motif diamond and platinum necklace/bracelet combination created by the jeweler in 1954. It can also be worn as a tiara, which Lollobrigida did when she received her 1961 Golden Globe for World Film Favorite and in the movie Woman of Straw.

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Gina Lollobrigida’s circa 1954 Bulgari diamond necklace/bracelet which she wore attached together in her hair.

Elizabeth Taylor was a proponent of wearing brooches in her hair on and off film, such as the emerald and diamond floral spray brooch by Bulgari. Her third husband Mike Todd gave her a tiara that she wore numerous times, including when Todd was nominated for an academy award for Around The World in 80 Days.

Elizabeth Taylor wearing her diamond and emerald floral spray Bulgari brooch in her hair. Photo by REX/Shutterstock

Jackie Kennedy wore two Van Cleef & Arpels brooches in her hair, the Wheat Sheaf and Flame brooches. The two gave the appearance of subtle regal elegance worn with the nonchalant sophistication that was Jackie’s signature style.

President John F. Kennedy with Jackie Kennedy wearing Van Cleef & Arpels wheat sheaf and flame brooch in her hair. Photo: Keystone Pictures USA/Alamy

Keeping to the theme of hair adornment, a treasure chest of a three-volume book set of Chaumet, the first jewelers to set up shop on Place Vendome, was published by Assouline in August 2016. Chaumet’s trilogy includes The Art of The Tiara by Viviane Becker, which features tiaras that date back to those commissioned by Empress Josephine until World War II. It also includes a sampling of contemporary versions created since that time.

Chaumet three-volume book including The Art of The Tiara by Viviane Becker, published by Assouline, August 2016

Whatever the occasion and however/wherever you choose to wear your jewel in the crown, why not find a gem for your hair that suits you, adds some sparkle to your tresses and reminds you of the magical princess days of your youth.