This year European Fine Art Fair TEFAF had reminded jewellery lovers that diamonds could be best friends not only to girls but to guys as well. One of the top masterpieces at the fair was The Anglesey tiara, which was made for Henry Cyril Paget. The long-forgotten story of the fifth Marquess of Anglesey, Henry Cyril Paget is worth telling as he seemed to be erased from history for being different and eccentric.
Also known as Lord Anglesey, 5th marquess lived a short lavish aristocratic life and died in 1905 at age 29. When he died newspapers described his life as a ‘wasted life’. Young gentleman was not respected by the society with Victorian and Edwardian values for a few reasons. He wasted his family fortunes, he turned his family chapel into a theatre, moreover, society had noticed hints of queer identity because of his costumes and love to jewellery.
Word ‘love’ for jewellery would be an underestimation as it was more of an obsession with jewellery and glitter. Henry Cyril Paget preferred diamond-set tiaras just like this one.
Rare jewellery was his thing. Once before the interview with Daily Mail Henry apologized: ‘I must apologise for not appearing before you in peacock-blue plush wearing a diamond and sapphire tiara, a turquoise dog-collar, ropes of pearls and slippers studded with Burma rubies; but I prefer, and always have preferred, Scotch tweed’.
The concept of costume jewellery was not familiar to this guy as he would put real diamonds and real gold to even little details of accessory in plays. Costumes worn on the stage of his theater would cost millions of pounds today. For instance, Aladdin costume cost would be valued more than a decent house or 1 million GBP if valued today.
In the summer of 1904, his lavish spending had to stop as he was declared bankrupt. His bankruptcy sales had to be quite an event at the time as the list was endless and full of accessories. Jewellery, 900 lots of silk-lined suits, fur coats, walking sticks, a separate day for his collection of dogs. Who knows where those items are now. But for some reason, The Anglesey tiara was not sold and Paget’s family kept it.
Seiriol Davies, musical stage biographer told to BBC News: ‘He put on touring productions of an Oscar Wilde play that would have been quite daring in that period’. This and some other hints to queer identity might be the reason why his family destroyed his papers, letters and diary. As there is no actual evidence of what kind of personality he was besides some extravagant photos and painting of him in eye-catching costumes and jewellery.
The Anglesey tiara is an obvious masterpiece for its jewels and unique craftsmanship, but more importantly this tiara hides a story. The story of queer culture which started earlier than the majority of us is aware of.