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Spain

The fascinating tale of one of the most unusual royal tiaras of all

While the Spanish Royal Family has many impressive tiaras held in their family, the Mellerio Shell Tiara certainly has to be the most interesting. 

Queen Isabella II of Spain purchased this tiara from the French jeweller Mellerio dits Meller in 1868 to give to her daughter, Infanta Isabella, as a wedding gift. 

This unique tiara was designed by the Belgian-born, French designer Oscar Massin who was one of the most talented jewellers of the nineteenth century. He created it for the 1867 World Exposition Universelle in Paris before the Spanish Queen bought it. 

It is easy to see why the Mellerio Shell Tiara is considered to be unique. It is designed to mimic incoming waves and seashells in its silhouette made of diamonds. It features seven pearls and eighteen diamonds that are suspended to allow for movement, further invoking the movement of waves. 

This tiara is not a part of the joyas de pasar, a collection of jewels reserved solely for the Spanish queen. It is currently owned by Queen Sofia, mother to the current King of Spain. However, Queen Sofia loaned it to her daughter-in-law, Letizia, when she was still Princess of Asturias. Queen Letizia has not worn it in recent years, but it may appear yet again. 

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Historian and blogger at AnHistorianAboutTown.com