With its regal associations, the tiara has long been a symbol of wealth and status. The bridal connection dates back to the golden wreaths given by Ancient Greek women to the gods as thanks for marriage. But while wearing jewels in your hair on your wedding day is back in fashion, brides are less concerned with what the tiara says about them and more interested in how stylish a bejewelled headpiece will look on their big day.
Kate Middleton looked every inch the Duchess walking down the aisle in her elaborate vintage Cartier tiara, but the current trend for bridal headwear is less formal. Diamond Alice bands and dainty, light-as-a-feather tiaras are in; heavy, ornate designs are out.
Graff Diamonds recently launched a collection of very precious Alice bands, decorated with diamond-set bows, butterflies and blooms, which are unashamedly girly. What is the appeal of hair jewels today? "A diamond Alice band or brooch worn in the hair provides our clients with an exciting new way to wear fine jewellery," explains Francois Graff, CEO of Graff Diamonds.
Chaumet offers elaborate special-commission designs to colourful Bee my love Alice bands, complete with detachable brooches. Chanel, also, has launched several new Alice bands recently featuring sparkling feathers and Camelias - Mademoiselle Coco Chanel's favourite flower - fashioned out of ceramic.
Garrard, the world's oldest jeweller, is famous for producing tiaras for the British royal family, but today the market for its bejewelled headpieces is worldwide. Indicative of the trend for less showy tiaras, Garrard's Fringe design, with its pretty rows of diamonds and scalloped edge, has a vintage feel and, like tiaras of old, can be adjusted by hand to form a Fringe necklace. Meanwhile, David Morris London's beautiful floral tiara is so delicate and ethereal that there would be no risk of the headache that Princess Diana was reported to have suffered from on her wedding day as a result of wearing the hefty Spencer tiara.
Erin Morris of David Morris London has designed a collection of hair jewels over the past five years that includes Alice bands, tiaras and hair clips. "People want a piece of jewellery to mark an occasion and to pass down to their children, but they don't want a tiara that looks like one the Queen would wear," says Morris. "Instead they want something that can be worn in a modern way." Which is precisely what the latest tiaras and Alice bands offer - a contemporary take on a jewel laden in historic wedding-day significance.