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Queen Alexandra of Denmark’s “Mystery”Amethyst Tiara

Photo Credit: W D. Downey, London photographers / Public domain

One of the lesser-known tiaras is Queen Alexandra’s Amethyst “Mystery” Tiara.  It was gifted to her by her brother-in-law Tsar Alexander III. When the Queen died intestate, her jewels were divided among her children. The amethyst tiara went to her eldest daughter, Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife. It was then bequeathed to her second daughter, Maud of Fife, who later became Countess of Southesk upon her marriage to Charles Carnegie, 11th Earl of Southesk.

During Queen Alexandra’s lifetime, the tiara was rarely seen or worn.  Images of her daughter or granddaughter wearing the tiara are far and few between which is why it is referred to as the “mystery” tiara. The last time it was seen was in 1946 when it was auctioned at Christie’s for £1750.

However, there is a more compelling story. On closer inspection, the amethyst tiara that is assumed to be Queen Alexandra’s and is noted all over the internet as belonging to her is not the same one that the Queen is photographed wearing (left).

The tiara (below) is actually in Florence in the Museo degli Argenti.  It is Cartier and dated around 1900.

The Christies catalogue description reads:

“The important diamond and amethyst tiara was composed of seven single oval amethysts graduating from the centre to lozm flowers, supported by twin leaves and single diamonds within a graduated oval diamond frame, each intersected by diamond bars, with single diamond tops, and supported by twin diamond semi-circles, with single line diamond base”

The Cartier tiara is set with pear-shape amethysts. The frame is decorated with laurel leaves and set with diamonds as well as amethysts. The Queen’s tiara, on the other hand, is set with graduating oval amethysts and only diamonds, including a line-diamond base, nothing like the Cartier diamond which has no line-diamond base. How is it possible that the Cartier tiara is confused with Queen Alexandra’s tiara? The catalogue description of Queen Alexandra’s tiara does not even match the Cartier tiara!

Queen Alexandra of Denmark’s Amethyst Tiara. Photo Credit: Christies / Public Domain

The question now is where is Queen Alexandra’s amethyst tiara-the one she is photographed wearing? I’ve read that it is in a museum in Germany. Upon further research,  I have not been able to confirm this or find any further clues. If anyone can shed some light, I’m all ears.