The Mary Ethel Burns collection was one of the most spectacular ever created by Boucheron.
For her engagement, the father of the young woman who was to become Lady Harcourt accompanied his daughter to the Maison’s boutique so that she could compose her wedding chest. As an adoring father, Walter Hayes Burns wanted her to have the most beautiful trousseau ever seen and instructed his daughter to choose and order all of the jewels she dreamed of.
It is said that Mary spent several days in the boutique, selecting the most exquisite jewels and sparkling stones. One of the jewels she selected for her "Corbeille de Marriage" was this tiara which was the gift of her mother.
A complete parure of turquoises and diamonds, including tiara, choker and ear studs, completed the "wedding basket" and was her father's present.
"We are dressmaking madly," she reported to her to her future stepmother-in-law in April 1899 from Paris.
There was a great outpouring of the American colony and of persons prominent in official circles today at the wedding in St Margaret's Church, Westminster, of Lewis Harcourt, eldest son of Sir William Vernon Harcourt and Miss May Burns, daughter of the late Walter Burns and niece of Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan.
Although the wedding was considered more private than public there assembled in the famous church a most distinguished company, including many eminent Liberals associated politically with the groom and his father.
The maid of honour was Miss Annie Morgan, daughter of Mr & Mrs J.P. Morgan and Miss Caroline Morgan a daughter of George Morgan NY, was one of the ten bridesmaids, all of whom presented a pretty picture gowned in pure white yellow ribbonsThe Morning Post wrote the dresses are of cream satin with overdresses of silver-spotted tulle. The ribbons are mauve as it was the accent colour.
Mr and Mrs. Harcourt took up residence in Berkeley Square, where they were close neighbours to Lord Roseberry, Alfred Harnsworth and the Earl and Countess of Crewe.
The diamond tiara of the Viscountess Harcourt is composed of 11 navette diamonds weighing a total of 39.79 carats. The tiara was made of fleur de lys, and richly set like a diamond crown. It was made by Boucheron and was one of the jewels from her "Corbeille de Marriage". It was later sold in 1985 for $250,895 USD.
The Harcourts were members of the Marlborough House Set, the inner court of Prince of Wales, and friends to the future King Eduard and Queen Alexandra, so she had a need for appropriate jewellery to complete her outfits for various events.
The Viscountess wore the tiara together with her diamond necklace from Boucheron. The 28 diamonds have an important provenance; the diamonds themselves are from the comb of pampilles of the French Crown jewels which was made for Empress Eugenie
The diamonds were a legacy of her grandfather, who bought them for her and deposited them in a secure lock box.
Also, after her marriage Lady Harcourt was a faithful Boucheron client commissioning a number of pieces, including tiaras, necklaces and bracelets throughout her lifetime.
Sources: Evening News 1899; Ladies of the Manor;
Thank you to my dear Volker and Laura for her help.