The "Foliates" tiara
Cartier, Paris, 1910
Platinum, diamonds, 55x150mm ; Height at centre 5.05 cm
Geneva, Collection Cartier, inventory no HO 02A10
At the start of the 20th century, "l'Art Nouveau" or the "New Art" is a novel style that is being adopted inside Europe in a reactionary movement against naturalism in the type of jewellery popular at the close of the 19th century. Certain jewellery houses, such as Cartier, decide not to subscribe to this trend and will, instead, intensify their design efforts towards the style of the 18th century, or Louis XV, making use of decorative motifs such as flower garlands, laurel leaves, and bows. The architectural decorations of the 18th century as common in Paris at that time will further influence the novel creations. This characteristic style distinguishes itself through the re-emergence of jewellery pieces, as, for instance, the bodice brooch (devant de corsage), a style that had gone out of fashion for already more than one century. In order to make diamonds less of a weighty presence in the gemstones, Cartier is the first to utilize platinum in its mountings. Thanks to this novel precious metal, the settings of the jewellery are imbued with a more discreet and delicate presence. Only the diamond will continue to sparkle undiminished with a thousand brilliant lights. The foliated tiara of Queen Elizabeth is an excellent example of this garlanded style employed by the House Cartier. The diamond in the centre is of 5.84 carats. Following her accession to the throne in 1909, Queen Elizabeth acquired it in 1912. This tiara can be used in various ways, for instance, on the forehead, as done by the Queen of Belgium, adapted to new fashion styles. The Queen frequently wore it, as at the wedding ceremonies of her son Leopold III and of Baudouin in 1960. It is especially during the First World War that the King and Queen of Belgium distinguished themselves from other monarchs by remaining in Belgium during the German occupation. Her role in Red Cross activities and her dedication to assist the wounded in the First World War will, in fact, make her known as the "Queen Nurse". Queen Elizabeth was well-known for her love of culture and music. She herself was a musician and a sculptress. This famous Queen was acquainted with numerous artists and writers, and was a personal friend of the physicist, Albert Einstein.