The Portland Tiara, considered a national treasure and one of the finest examples in the world of its type, has been stolen from the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire.
Burglars broke into the Portland Collection Gallery on the estate between 9.45pm and 10pm on Tuesday (November 20). They stole the tiara and a diamond brooch from an armoured glass display case while the alarms were sounding.
Detectives from Nottinghamshire Police are appealing for information about a silver Audi S5 suspected to have been involved in the offence.
Detective Inspector Neil Humphris said: “We’re pursuing a number of lines of enquiry but we believe there are people out there who may have crucial information that could help with our investigation.
“We particularly want to hear from anyone who has any information about a silver Audi S5 which is suspected to have been involved in this offence. This vehicle was found abandoned and burnt out in Cross Lane, Blidworth, about half-an-hour after the incident.”
“The Portland Tiara is one of the great historic tiaras of Great Britain,” said Richard Edgcumbe, Curator of Jewellery at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
“Since its creation by Cartier in 1902, using diamonds from the historic collections of the Dukes of Portland, it has been recognised as a jewel of supreme importance, a superb design magnificently executed.”
The 6th Duke of Portland commissioned Cartier to create the Portland Tiara for his wife, Winifred, Duchess of Portland. She wore it to the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII. The Duchess was one of four pall-bearers at Queen Alexandra’s anointing.
The centre-piece of the tiara is the Portland Diamond, which dates from the 19th century. It is flanked by two diamond drops and other pendant diamonds, all set in gold and silver.
The burglars also stole a diamond brooch, which was in the same glass display case. The brooch is composed of diamond clusters that previously stood at the apex of the tiara.
These gems can be seen on the tiara in a painting of Duchess Winifred at the anointing of Queen Alexandra but are absent from it in a 1925 portrait of the Duchess, in which she wears the tiara low on her head as a bandeau.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious or who has any information that could help, is asked to contact Notts Police on 101, quoting incident number 856 of November 20, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.