Diamond wave tiara by Boucheron

18 September 2023

Very little is known about this exquisite wave tiara. Of course, I completely lost myself in a rabbit hole jam-packed with tiara fun facts. Both online and in my personal library. Care to join me?

Maison Boucheron

First things first: the maker. This spectacular piece of jewellery is ascribed to Boucheron. The ‘Maison’ was founded in 1858 at the Palais-Royal in Paris by designer Frédéric Boucheron. Born into a family of drapers, he always kept in mind the suppleness and weightlessness of silk and lace, that he continually carried over into gold. The boutique moved to Place Vendôme in 1892. Over the years, Boucheron has made spectacular jewellery for royals and won prestigious prices. Have you ever heard of their iconic Question Mark necklace? Its stylistic approach, featuring asymmetry and curved lines, was reinforced by a new technical achievement in jewellery: the absence of a clasp. It allowed women to put their necklace on without assistance. And it still does. Both practical and sophisticated.

The wave tiara featured in Geoffrey C. Munn's book 'Tiaras - A History of Splendour’

The wave tiara featured in Geoffrey C. Munn’s book ‘Tiaras – A History of Splendour’

Diamond Wave Tiara

Back to the tiara. According to the Boucheron Archives in Paris, the ‘wave tiara’ was created in May 1910 by Coulot for Boucheron. Jewellery specialist, historian and author Geoffrey C. Munn was granted privileged access to the Boucheron archive for his research. He writes in his book Tiaras – A History of Splendour: The movement of the water is cleverly suggested with piercing and the effect of this highly original design is achieved just as much by the absence as by the presence of brilliant diamonds.”

Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as The Great Wave - Katsushika Hokusai

Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as The Great Wave – Katsushika Hokusai

The Great Wave

Looking at the design of the tiara, one could see the resemblance with Katsushika Hokusai’s iconic composition ‘Under the Wave off Kanagawa’ (c. 1830 – 1832). From the 1860s until the 1890s, not long after Japan opened its borders to trade with foreign countries, Japanese woodblock prints became a source of inspiration for European artists. This craze for all things Japanese was called ‘Japonism’. A term made up by the French art critic and collector Philippe Burty in 1872.

A fascinating mystery

Unfortunately, our knowledge of this masterpiece is limited to a single archival photograph. Not one record of it being worn is published, leaving its current whereabouts shrouded in mystery. Who owned it? Where is it now? Was is dismantled? We may never know.