This week’s tiara comes by special request from a website visitor – Kareem, this one’s for you. This tiara was created especially for Queen Rania of Jordan in 2005, at the special request of King Abdullah. Abdullah asked Yan Sicard, one of Rania’s favorite jewelers, to design and craft it with her in mind. Sicard’s firm, FRED, used 1,300 diamonds set in white gold. That big honker on top is 20 carats, all by itself.
The tiara is arranged in an Arabic calligraphy pattern that reads, “Only Allah is the Great.” If anyone reads Arabic and this isn’t correct, please chime in so we can get this right – I’m relying on jewelry forum sources for this translation. Islamic art has a strong tradition of beautiful calligraphy. My neighbor, who used to fly cargo planes in and out of destinations all over the Middle East, brought back a beautiful ceramic calligraphy tile that hangs over his kitchen window.
Stylistically, this puppy is unique. I looked through Geoffrey Munn’s tiara book and only found one other example of a tiara with words as a central feature – and it’s a cheesy tiara for Dame Edna that says “MEGASTAR,” only one step above those horrific “Bride-to-Be” tiaras you can get at the dollar store. The internet gets a big fail here, since I can’t find a digitized image of it, but you’re probably better off because it’s a joke. I’m obviously giving the win to Rania in the category of “tiaras that spell things out.”
Rania has worn this tiara twice – on a state visit to the Netherlands in 2006 and for a Vanity Fair photo shoot in 2008. Getty Images doesn’t have a single shot of Rania in this tiara. What they do have is a bunch of crotch shots of members of a Korean girl group called Rania that come up when you search for “Queen Rania of Jordan.” So, thanks for nothing, Getty Images.
Tell Me More about Rania
You guys were a big fan of Boucheron’s Ivy tiara, also worn by Rania, so right off the bat, we know she has good taste. But there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye. Did you know she has Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts? She also her own website. As far as queens go, she’s probably the most media-savvy out there. When she accepted the first YouTube visionary award in 2008, she accepted using a Letterman-style Top Ten list, explaining why she created her YouTube channel. Reason #9? “Because anything Queen Elizabeth can do, I can do better.” Reason #6? “Because my original idea of ‘Where the Hell is Her Majesty?’ had already been taken.”
Did I subscribe? Hell yes, I did.
Rania’s story has a few similarities to that of Princess Takamado, who we met back in December. Like Princess Takamado, Rania met her prince at a party and got engaged very quickly (one month for Takamado, two months for Rania). They married six months after meeting (just like me and my hubby!). Also like Princess Takamado, Rania has a degree. Hers is in business administration, from the American University in Cairo.
The more I read about her, the more I respect her.
She launched an annual teachers’ award, chaired the first interactive children’s museum in Jordan, runs a scholarship program for college-bound students, and generally does a crapload of work to promote education.
Forbes twice included her on its list of the world’s 100 most powerful women. She’s also written four children’s books – one of which, The Sandwich Swap, is available on Amazon.
Here’s the best picture I could find of Rania wearing this tiara:
Bonus Nazi & James Bond Connection
Both of these connections involve the jeweler who made the tiara, FRED, and not Rania herself, but just go with it. So who, you ask, is this jeweler who really likes using the caps lock? In 1936, Fred Samuel opened a jewelry shop in Paris. Raised in Argentina, he attracted a rich and elegant clientele that included Marlene Dietrich and Douglas Fairbanks. He also created jeweled artwork frames for a series of Picasso engravings.
When it opened, the store was simply named after its owner, Fred Samuel. If the newer, caps-lock name bothers you, blame the Nazis.
When they occupied Paris during WWII, they forced the re-brand to camouflage Fred’s Jewish last name.
Fred was not about to put up with that shit. He got the hell out of Dodge and became an interpreter for the Allies. After the war, however, the new name was ingrained in people’s minds and he just went with it.
Good thing, too, because FRED started doing big business after the war. In the 1950s, Princess Grace came calling. So did the royal family of Nepal, who asked him to find stones that matched the bright colors of their saris. In the 60s, Middle Eastern royalty, flush with oil money, also became big fans. In 1996, Fred handed the reins to Yan Sicard, as mentioned, one of Rania’s favorite jewelers.
You’ve probably seen this jeweler’s work even if you didn’t know it at the time. If you’ve seen the movie Pretty Woman, they made the ruby and diamond necklace Richard Gere gives Julia Roberts. Also, in Casino Royale, Bond girl Solange Dimitrios wears a FRED necklace and earrings with that gorgeous pink dress.
How Would I Wear It?
I’ll be the first to admit – it’s a little weird to think of a white girl with no particular religious persuasion (other than pronounced skepticism) to wear a tiara with a religious message. But if we set that aside for a minute, we’re talking about a tiara that is lacy and delicate and beautiful. Look at all those pear-shaped beauties hanging in the front. Look at the way the end piece lays against her hair so perfectly in that portrait.
Rania’s become an expert at using her position to do something good in the world. Most of the time, I’m an incredibly selfish hermit who doesn’t do anything good in the world. I recycle, but that’s about it. That’s why I like the idea of wearing this tiara to the library, to a kids’ story time, and telling them that it’s not only a tiara, it’s a secret code they can learn to decipher if they try. To a kid, that’s what reading is, right? A secret code that only grown-ups know. I’d like to think that some little kid is going to want to learn Arabic so he or she can figure out the secret code. The future is a scary place, but I love the idea that a tiara could play a tiny role in breaking down the barriers politics and religion have put between us.
Want to Suggest a Tiara?
Drop its name or a photo link into the comments. I’ll do my best to find something interesting in its history for a future Tiara Tuesday.
Tiara: TheRoyalForums.com, posted by user salma
Affiliate link disclosure:
There are two Amazon affiliate links in this post (the tiara book and Rania’s children’s book). If you choose to buy through these links, I’ll get a few extra cents for the tiara research fund.
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