Custom Made

The Making of a Diamond Tiara

It was June 2021; the start of COVID Lockdown 2.0 in Sydney. The Matthew Ely Queen St boutique, along with all other retail and hospitality venues across the state, had officially shut up shop.

Some people were making sourdough.

Others were embracing Netflix and Zoom drinks.

Matthew was embarking of one of his most remarkable custom-made projects to date – a diamond and pearl wedding tiara, which could be also worn as a necklace.

650 hours. 11 South Sea Pearls. 580 diamonds, weighing 40.25cts.

Here’s how it began…


June 2021: Private Consultation & Sketch

It started with a private consultation.

Peter, a Matthew Ely Jewellery client, was searching for a very special gift that his daughter, Sarah, could wear on her wedding day. A wearable artwork and family heirloom; inimitable in design and sparkling with diamonds.

A tiara.

STEP 1: The consultation, initial sketch & pearl showcase

“We worked together to draw up some concepts,” said Matt. “At this stage, I also presented the pearls. They’re incredibly rare and direct from the private collection of Rosario Autore.”

“It took Rosario 3.5 years to pull these together; a suite of 11 graduated South Sea Pearls of the highest quality, ranging from 9-13mm.”

STEP 2: Client feedback & revised sketch

“From the original sketch, Peter decided to add more diamonds. Easy done.

“Together, we agreed on a final design, perfect for Sarah (who had no idea of the surprise in store!).

“The final sketch was transformed into a colourful artwork, painted from France by our talented Matthew Ely designer, Louis.”

July - November 2021: The Making Of...

Over 650 hours, Matthew worked to bring Sarah’s tiara to life.

With fortnightly consultants and four full viewings, Peter was kept informed and involved every step of the way. He was able to provide feedback both on the tiara, and the transformation of the piece into a stunning pearl and diamond necklace.

STEP 3: Creation of the diamond headband.

“We started with the diamond headband to get an overall shape and dimension for the piece,” said Matt.

“There are two wires here; the base for the diamonds, and the smaller wire that sits on the head. It’s made of a spring alloy to ensure it stays in place and doesn’t bend too far.”

STEP 4: Rough shapes and cluster settings.

“Each individual shape for the tiara had to be cut separately, with the diamond clusters perfectly positioned. We needed the length of all those parts to finish perfectly, both for the necklace and around the head.”

STEP 5: Clusters coming together.

We got everything, every single, individual section, cut out and placed before bringing the piece together. If you add even a millimetre to each piece, the full length would then be 2cm too long. The beauty is in the detail.”

STEP 6: Finalising the headband.

“And back to the headband! Here, I’m cutting the actual claws for holding the diamonds by hand. It’s the final step that will allow us to start connecting and attaching the individual jewels and clusters together.”

STEP 7: Aligning the parts & clusters.

“We have a left side. We have a right side. Now we just need to triple check the length is right before placing diamonds and pearls.”

STEP 8: Necklace check!

“We’re just seeing how the pearls and diamonds sit on the neck. We don’t want the pearls to tip the wrong way.”

STEP 9: Tiara check!

“Next step: making sure that every single piece sits flat, with the jewels all at the right height. Detail, detail, detail.”

STEP 10: Setting the diamonds & pearls.

“It’s time for some jewels! We started with diamonds, setting the individual stones in their clusters, with a constant reference to the original sketch.”

STEP 11: Necklace/tiara transformation (ft. an 18ct white gold & pearl mini screwdriver)

“A critical step was to work out the mechanics of how the tiara transformed into a necklace. It had to be an easy process, only requiring a tiny screwdriver (which was made of 18ct white gold, with a pearl on top – of course!).”

Final Product: “The diamonds are in. The piece is fully convertible. And here it is – a sparkling diamond tiara, ready to walk down the aisle!”

The Date? 12 November 2021.

Total Hours? 650.

The Final Piece

An 18ct handmade tiara, which can be disassembled to create a necklace and diamond headband.

The tiara contains a suite of 11 graduated oval South Sea Pearls of the highest quality, ranging between 9-13mm.

The piece contains a total 580 diamonds, weighing 40.25ct.

FEBRUARY 2022:
The Wedding

Sarah and John were officially married in February 2022.

Sarah looked like an absolute princess walking down the aisle in her tiara, with her dad Peter by her side.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

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Should you be inspired by one of our bespoke pieces, please book an appointment to discuss how we can create something special, just for you.


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