Josephine-Charlotte’s Belgian Tiara
The Belgian Princess Joséphine-Charlotte received many gifts for her wedding with Hereditary Grand Duke Jean in 1953. One of the most splendid jewels that was given to her, was the tiara gifted by the Société Générale, the Belgian national bank. They ordered a tiara which had to be entirely made with diamonds from the Congo at Coosemans, a Belgian jeweller. The 854 brilliants are set in platinum, totalling 46.42 carats. The tiara is mounted on a palladium base. The central piece of the tiara is a detachable 8-karat diamond that can be worn as brooch.
The tiara was worn for the first time for one of the official portraits taken at the wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Jean and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium. The Princess, however, did not wear this tiara the whole time. During the religious ceremony, she wore a necklace convertible to tiara, which was given to her by the Belgian colony Congo, a creation of Van Cleef & Arpels.
Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte preferred this tiara over all others she had at her disposal, and wore it frequently during state visits, receptions and for official photos. Soon after her death, the tiara turned out to be part of the jewels that her heirs wanted to sell. Luckily, the Grand Ducal family decided not to go ahead with this sale, and the tiara is now still in their possession. Grand Duchess Maria Teresa has worn it on several occasions.
To our knowledge, the tiara has no official name. It is referred to as “the Congo tiara” , “the Belgian tiara”or “the Société Générale tiara”. Please note that “Congo Tiara” is an ambiguous term, as it could also refer to the necklace/tiara Joséphine-Charlotte had received from the Belgian colony.
Collage by Aimée Durand and used with permission. All rights reserved.