Saturday, 23 January 2021

The Jewel Box: Princess Charlene's Van Cleef & Arpels Ocean Tiara

Van Cleef & Arpels has been the official supplier to the Principality of Monaco since 1956. It came as no surprise when Prince Albert commissioned the Parisian jeweller to create a necklace that can be worn as a tiara as a wedding gift for his bride, then Charlene Wittstock.

Van Cleef & Arpels

In honour of her background as an Olympic swimmer, the diamond and sapphire piece is composed of 1,200 gemstones crafted into circular elements evoking the sea. Prince Albert appropriately chose the name 'Ocean' for the sparkling piece.

Van Cleef & Arpels

The necklace includes different shades of sapphires capturing different sea colours as well as pear-cut diamonds to suggest water droplets.

Van Cleef & Arpels

More on the composition from Van Cleef & Arpels:

'Ripples shimmer on a ribbon of white gold and round-cut diamonds.
The frothy lace of diamonds sparkles with the water’s reflections and diffuses into fabulous asymmetrical circles. The waters of the sea, made of blue sapphires, carry 11 pear-cut diamonds in their gentle swell. Océan, the necklace, transforms into a royal tiara.

883 round-cut diamonds, weighing a total of over 44 carats. 10 pear-cut diamonds, weighing a total of over 4 carats. A 4.01 carat pear-cut diamond. 359 round-cut sapphires for over a total of 18 carats, in a colour gradation of 3 hues.'

The jeweller described the piece as a "pledge of love, offered by the prince to his princess. Ocean exalts the grace and elegance of the bride". In the fascinating video below you will see the creative process and meticulous work applied to designing such a timeless piece of jewellery. An immense amount of planning and consideration went into ensuring it was very much a piece that represented Charlene and her love of the ocean.

We first saw Charlene wear the Ocean tiara as a necklace at the Red Cross Ball in 2011.

Embed from Getty Images

It looked simply stunning and Charlene allowed the piece to take centre stage while wearing a simple no-frills, strapless gown and an elegant updo.

Embed from Getty Images

We first saw Charlene wear the piece as a tiara for an exclusive interview with Hola! and it was instantly evident how well it suited her. Charlene's style tends to be minimalistic with regard to her clothing, jewellery, and hairstyle choices. The tiara provided a 'Wow' factor for the shoot.


Hola!

Another look from the shoot.

Hola!

Charlene didn't wear the tiara during the wedding festivities because she loaned it to the Oceanographic museum; in fact, it's been part of several exhibits since. Below we see Her Serene Highness posing beside the tiara at a Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition launch in Paris in September 2012.


You'll notice the drop earrings Charlene wore for the exhibition appear to be part of a set with the tiara containing the same diamond and sapphire circle.


I've always been surprised Charlene hasn't chosen to wear it with some frequency. Looking forward to seeing the piece in the future!

8 comments:

  1. Charlene's simple elegant style and build are the perfect match for this gorgeous unique piece. Not everyone could wear this so well in both its functions. The fabrication is just awesome and I love the symbolism of the piece as well. Just a wow!

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  2. I had a face mask on but i had to say a quiet "wow" !!! Isn't she lucky? Afetr a brilliant career to be ended by marriage to a prince. And then the tiara... it's so beautiful. A sure nod to traditional yet so modern and luxurious. Purely royalty. Thanks Charl.

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  3. While I like many things about this tiara, I think the point is a little too severe at the base of the tiara, and looks better when worn as a necklace.

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  4. I will say it- this is one of my least favourite tiaras. It is weird mix of modern (they way the coloured stones are used) and traditional (rounded swirls). I haven't seen one picture where the piece (as tiara or necklace) looks good. The tapered form makes it incredible hard. They should have rather looked at some of the gorgeaus old pieces that are up for auction now and then.
    I think with a different role monarchy plays today, creating a new tiara almost always fails. Modern ideas and views just don't fit with the role a tiara has.
    C.

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    1. That's a shame you feel that way, I really admire how the creators have worked with both old and new ideas to create a contemporary and striking piece. I think it's a good thing that they would try to interpret the tiara anew for a different age. It is certainly a bold experiment which hasn't resonated with yourself, and I wonder if it is altogether comfortable to wear given that Charlene has only given it an airing as a very fine necklace.

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  5. Wow, a truly sparkling come-back for The Royal Digest after the winter hibernation! Thank you for introducing me to a whole new tiara I never knew about before. A little tristesse that it hasn't been worn publicly and now seems to be on museum loan. It looks striking in her Hello photo shoot, and very much in keeping with Charlene's sharp sense of style. It's a fantastic piece and hopefully the Ocean Tiara may re-emerge one day.

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  6. Was it royal habit to commission for multi-purpose tiaras/neckdos? That is SOME TIARA!!!!

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