This tiara was made in 1819/1820 for Marie Therese Charlotte, Duchesse d’Angouleme, as a gift from her husband, Louis Antoine, the Duc d’Angouleme. It was made of unmounted stones from the French crown jewels, and set in gold and silver. It contains 40 emeralds and over a thousand diamonds.
When her father in law/uncle Charles X abdicated the throne in 1830, as did her husband immediately after, the family went into exile and Marie Therese was forced to return the tiara to the treasury. It remained packed away until Napoleon III came to the throne, when it was frequently worn by his wife, Empress Eugenie. Unfortunately, there are no known portraits or photographs of either woman wearing it. When Napoleon III went into exile in 1870, Eugenie also had to return the tiara to the treasury.
It was displayed at the Paris World’s Fair in 1878, and then at the Louvre in 1884. In 1887, it was sold at auction along with the majority of the other french crown jewels. It wasn’t seen again until it surfaced in the vaults of the Wartski jewellers. The owner was apparently unaware of its’ history, but allowed it to be displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 1982-2002. The tiara was then but up for sale, but the British government placed a temporary export ban on it so that funds could be raised to keep it in the country. They weren’t successful in raising the money, but an arrangement was made with the Louvre museum to have it returned to their collection. It is now on display there, along with other surviving items from the French crown jewels.