This exquisite tiara is steeped in royal history, though its origins remain shrouded in mystery. Adorned with glistening diamonds and lustrous pearls, this stunning piece of jewellery is versatile in its design, able to be worn as a regal tiara or a graceful necklace, complemented by a pair of matching earrings.
As with the Diamond Bow Brooch, most people like to think that this piece came from the legendary jewel collection of Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia. When her only daughter, Elena (pictured) married Prince Nicolas of Greece in 1902, it has been assumed that the bandeau would have been part of her lavish wedding presents (which also included a Diamond Kokoshnik Tiara, made by Chaumet)
However, in my personal opinion, I don’t think this is the case. When you compare this piece to the other jewels of Imperial Russia it is small and delicate by comparison. The design features diamond snakes (the circles) guarding their eggs (the pearls in the middle). The naturalistic snake motif was very common within the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th Century and would explain why Elena was pictured wearing it in 1912.
Prince Nicolas and Elena had three daughters, Olga, Elizabeth and Marina. All three made suitable royal marriages and all three were to inherit elements of their mothers jewellery collection
In 1934, Princess Marina married George, Duke of Kent, Fourth Son of King George V of England.
As was tradition, she received many bejewelled gifts from both her family and her new in laws. Along with the Cambridge Sapphires and her Cartier Clips, she also received her mother’s Pearl Bandeau.
Known as ‘the Dazzling Pair’, Prince George and Princess Marina were the leaders of London High Society during the 30’s, giving Marina ample opportunity to wear the Bandeau to many glamorous events.
After Prince George’s tragic death in 1942, Marina was still a valued member of the extended Royal Family and would continue to serve the British people and the Monarchy at ceremonial events. When representing Queen Elizabeth II at the celebrations of Ghanaian Independence in 1957, Princess Marina chose to wear the Pearl Bandeau
Alongside her official duties, Marina would often attend many Royal gatherings across Europe.
She wore the bandeau at the Wedding Ball of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and Countess Helene zu Törring-Jettenbach at Schloss Seefeld in Bavaria. In 1962, her close friend, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands celebrated her Silver wedding anniversary and Marina can be seen in the front row wearing the bandeau.
Her daughter, Princess Alexandra of Kent, borrowed heavily from her mothers jewellery collection before her marriage, with pieces such as the Bandeau and the Festoon Tiara. Princess Alexandra wore the pearl bandeau frequently during the 1960s
Sadly, The Kents were forced to sell several important pieces of jewellery to pay Princess Marina’s inheritance tax after she died in 1968. The tiara and earrings were photographed for Geoffrey Munn’s tiara book in 2002, but the piece was attributed merely to a “private collection.”