The Snowflake Diadem for the Queen of Canada

Today’s post is dedicated to HM Queen Elizabeth II, who turns 89 today! Although her official birthday is not celebrated until June at Trooping the Colour, I thought I would introduce my readers to a little-known royal head ornament for the Queen of Canada: the Snowflake Diadem.

The Snowflake Diadem on medals and in the stained glass window

The snowflake diadem was designed in 2008 and approved by the Queen. It features alternating stellar dendrite snowflakes and stylised maple leaves (designed by Jacques Saint Cyr in the 1960’s based on the red maple leaf) atop triangular arches. Symbolising her status as Queen of Canada, the diadem does not exist physically (it’s imaginary!). (So for the Canadians who are strongly opposed to the monarchy, you needn’t worry that our taxes went towards the creation of a new crown and is hiding in the Tower of London with the rest of the crown jewels.) In fact, it exists only as a design, featured in the Diamond Jubilee [stained glass] Window at Parliament Hill (to be exact, ‘above the Senate entrance to the Centre Block) in Ottawa, on the Sacrifice Medal (a medal created in 2008 for a member of the Canadian or allied forces wounded or killed in action), and on the Operational Service Medal (a medal created in 2010 for Canadian or allied forces, as well as Canadian police officers, for their services in peacekeeping or other military campaigns). I had trouble finding out who the designer(s) is/are, so I am going to assume that the designers of the stained glass window, Christopher Goodman and Angela Zissoff from Kelowna, British Columbia, also designed the diadem. During her recent royal tour of Canada in 2010, the Queen saw and approved the model for the stained glass window, which was a gift to her on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

To have a better idea of what the snowflake diadem could look like materially, let’s have a closer look at the diadem on the OSM medal in hi-resolution. The triangular arches and band are lined with round cut diamonds, much like the 1915 Belle Epoque ruby and diamond necklace/tiara. Each arch has nine diamonds. The profile view shows three maple leaves and two snowflakes. Given the maple leaf in the front and back, we can assume that the opposite side also features two snowflakes and one maple leaf. Unlike the diamond Maple Leaf Brooch (gifted to the Queen Mother by her husband ahead of their royal tour of Canada in 1939), the leaves’ edges and veins seem to be plated (in platinum?). To create the brilliance of the maple leaves, I am guessing that the leaf blade would be filled with several small cushion-cut diamonds, similar to the diamond leaves in the Danish Ruby Parure Tiara. As for the snowflakes, my guess is that the outline is lined with tiny round- or baguette-cut diamonds, with a bigger round diamond in the centre. (Clearly, I am no jewellery expert so do not take my word for this!) Since it is to be a Canadian diadem, it must be made from Canadian-mined diamonds, of course. When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge came to Canada in 2011, they were gifted Harry Winston diamond polar bear cufflinks and a brooch from the Diavik Mine in the Northwest Territories. (As you may or may not know, the American luxury brand, Harry Winston, had been in Canadian hands from 2004/6 to 2013.) According to Robert Gannicott, the Chairman and CEO of Harry Winston, Canadian diamonds are ‘largely brighter and glassier than African diamonds.’ Furthermore, those who purchase Canadian diamonds can be reassured that these are not tainted by conflict-zones. It would be likely that the diamonds for the snowflake diadem would come from either the Diavik or Ekati Mines. As for the craftsmanship – now that Harry Winston is in Swiss hands – I’m afraid I can’t think of a Canadian-owned luxury brand at the moment. 🙁

So there you go. The imaginary diadem that could be!