“A plant of immortality, myrtle was an emblem of love and desire; poets, especially love poets, were crowned with it, and doorposts were wreathed with myrtle in nuptial celebrations.” – Deirdre Larkin, The Art of Illumination.
The tradition of wearing myrtle headpieces for weddings dates back to ancient times. Myrtle was revered by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Hebrews and myrtle wedding garlands were popular throughout medieval Europe. The practise experienced a renaissance during the Victorian and Edwardian eras with the Naturalistic Movements and, later, the Art Nouveau Movement. With the explosion in romanticism, finely crafted myrtle tiaras and corsages became an established and widespread tradition throughout Europe, particularly Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Myrtle has long been considered to be Aphrodite’s flower and a symbol of devoted love. It is also considered to be the chosen flower of Venus. The Three Graces are frequently depicted wearing myrtle flower crowns. The ancient Greeks and Romans bathed in myrtle scented waters, often when preparing for marriage. They wore them for other special events and also received them as athletic prizes and other honours. They were made of gold foil and were delicate and fragile. The ancient Hebrews associated myrtle with romantic love, procreation and marriage.
The sweet scent of myrtle is thought by many to be the very fragrance of romance itself. It is a symbol of devotion and fidelity. In the Victorian Language of Flowers, myrtles’s simple and enduring meaning is ‘love and marriage’. In English tradition, a marriage is said to always follow after the myrtle blooms. In Wales, the traditional gift for a bridesmaid was a sprig of myrtle.
Fabric Myrtle Tiaras
In Germany and Austria, delicately made waxed fabric myrtle and leaf garlands were the most frequent choice for weddings. Tiny green leaves, interspersed with delicate white flowers, are arranged by hand on a pliable wooden or waxed card framework. Here at Elder and Bloom, we refer to these treasures as ‘Woodland Garlands’. They are popular with brides wanting a bohemian, natural or outdoor woodland themed wedding whilst simultaneously honouring history.
Silver Myrtle Tiaras
The intricately made silver myrtle tiaras were worn to celebrate a couple’s 25th anniversary. (In Germany this was known as the ‘Silber Hochzeit’.) Usually these are made from a base metal or low karat silver alloy or sometimes silver plated brass or other alloy. More rarely, we will find one of these tiaras made from real 800 silver, sometimes stamped by the jeweller. They nearly always come with a matching boutonnière or corsage for the groom to wear. Sometimes they come with two corsages, one for the bride and one for the groom. Today, they are worn by discerning brides seeking meaning, rarity and beauty.
Golden Myrtle Tiaras
Golden versions, usually created from gilded base metal and sometimes from gilded 800 silver, are even rarer. These were worn for the fiftieth anniversary (in German, the Goldene Hochzeit), again with matching boutonnière for the groom. These create a stunning and remarkable accessory for a modern bride, with additional depth of meaning as they were worn to celebrate truly enduring marriages.
Other Myrtle Tiaras
Other versions of myrtle tiaras were made from finely crafted silver or gold paper or possibly green paper leaves with delicately crafted white flowers. Wax versions were popular, especially in France. Sometimes, myrtle crowns can be found combined with a rose motif (another symbol of love and passion) or with a daisy motif (the daisy has long been associated with purity and innocence and is therefore appropriate for bridal wear). Just once, I was lucky enough to find a myrtle crown adorned with small gems.
Myrtle Crowns are often found framed with commemorative satin hearts, photos or gilded memorabilia, showing the dates and names of the wedding couple. At other times, they are found in small glass presentation domes on a quilted, satin base. Examples from the Art Deco era are sometimes found in hinged presentation boxes. Earlier examples can be found in round cardboard boxes, sometimes with the name of the original jewellers stamped on the bottom.
The earlier examples of these crowns were hand-wrought and the later versions were, although mass produced, still exquisitely crafted. These rare tiaras have proven very popular with contemporary brides and collectors drawn to the elegance, fineness and mystery. Valued for their heirloom qualities, they are sought after by those wanting to honour their European heritages. For a bride, they fulfil the requirement to wear something ‘old’ and create a talking point that fascinates their wedding guests.
I have been collecting and selling these exquisite pieces for many years. It brings me great joy to seek them out and then pass them on to enthusiastic customers. The beauty and craftsmanship of these historic pieces never ceases to amaze me.
To be put on the waiting list for the next available crown, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to look through the ‘Galleries’ to see more examples of these crowns.
Copyright © 2017 by Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder & Bloom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder & Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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