Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2012, and has been updated in 2024 with newly-uncovered information I found about the designer of Queen Farida’s tiara as well as the fate of the rest of her wedding jewellery.

In 1938, King Farouk married Safinaz Zulficar, after changing her name to Farida. As a child, Safinaz had been to the royal palaces many times because of her mother’s friendship with Queen Nazli. But on January 20th, at the mere age of 17, the daughter of Alexandria arrived in her Worth Paris gown at Kubbeh Palace as Queen Farida. Major celebrations were in order, street parades, fireworks, fabulous balls, and gifts and food handed to the poor of the cities and provinces. The grandeur and scale of the celebrations were unmatched, even by the legendary Afrah El Angal (offspring’s weddings) which Farouk’s grandfather, Khedive Ismail, threw for the marriages of his children almost 70 years earlier.

Prior to the wedding, a law was passed granting Nazli the title of Queen Mother. But the title wasn’t the only thing that Queen Nazli would keep. King Farouk issued a decree giving her the same precedence in protocol as Queen Farida. The Egyptian court followed a strict protocol which having two queens made all the more challenging. Queen Nazli also kept all of her jewellery. Queen Farida was not only the youngest queen of her time, she was also Egypt’s first modern consort to undertake a public role. And so, the new queen was surely in need of some major BLING!

In the Egyptian tradition, the groom doesn’t just give the bride an engagement ring, but an engagement set or parure called “Shabka”. Although more and more couples in Egypt opted for the Western diamond ring, gold is making a comeback with its ever-rising prices. Upon the engagement, King Farouk gave Safinaz a ring set with a diamond that King Fuad had given Queen Nazli.

Safinaz Zulficar official engagement photograph. She is seen in a 3/4 sleeve dress and her diamond engagement ring given to her by King Farouk

Safinaz Zulficar official engagement photograph. She is seen in a 3/4 sleeve dress and her diamond engagement ring given to her by King Farouk

But the king’s “gift” to Farida wasn’t exactly a parure, and the pieces she wore on her wedding day(s) weren’t the only pieces she received. When I say receive, I don’t exactly mean own. I’ll explain why later on. But first, let’s talk about the fabulous jewels!

Queen Farida’s Boucheron necklace

The King gifted his queen an amazing Boucheron necklace. The masterpiece was created for the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques (International Exposition of Art and Technology) in 1937. The necklace was one of the most admirable pieces there. It was composed of 114 diamonds and weighed 346 carats.

Queen Farida's Boucheron necklace in the Plaisir de France mag

Queen Farida’s Boucheron necklace in the Plaisir de France magazine

King Farouk purchased the necklace through Ahmed Bei Naguib, the jeweller and the embassy in late December 1937, only a few weeks before the wedding. The cost was 2,800,000 francs or about 27,000 Egyptian pounds at the time. This necklace became a favourite of the queen’s and she wore it often over the years. The Queen had several tiara/necklace convertible pieces, but this was her most substantial necklace.

Queen Farida’s lotus tiara

Queen Farida also received a gift from Queen Nazli, the Queen Mother, a tiara with Lotus floral motifs. This tiara is often referred to as the “peacock tiara,” but I believe if you look closely, you can see that it’s actually comprised of floral and vegetation motifs, inspired by the countryside in Egypt. The tiara was made for the occasion, and not part of Queen Nazli’s collection.

We don’t have any coloured photos of the tiara but newspapers at the time of the wedding mentioned that it is made of diamonds with a rare emerald in the centre. Looking at the only clear picture we have, we can see clearly that there are no emeralds. Queen Farida owned a large emerald which was worn both as a pendant and a headpiece with the tiara.

Queen Farida in her wedding jewels in 1938

Queen Farida in her wedding jewels in 1938

Queen Farida at the opera, wearing the lotus tiara with the emerald pendant. Under her yeshmak, we can spot the Boucheron necklace.

At the top of the tiara, there’s a heart-shaped diamond, which I estimate to be around 4 carats. The tiara was estimated to be worth more than 7000 pounds. The queen wore the tiara many times after the wedding. Here is an example from 1945.

Queen Farida in an official photograph, shortly after the wedding. Her Majesty was wearing her wedding jewellery with a robe trimmed with fur and inscribed in Arabic, made by Maison Worth as part of trousseau.

Who made Queen Farida’s tiara?

I’ve looked for the maker of this tiara for years. I had lost hope after all the major jewellers denied ever making this tiara, until one day the maker revealed himself to be Adolphe Kramer. A.D Kramer, as he referred to himself, was the court jeweller to King Farouk and his father Leon was the court jeweller to King Fuad. The Kramer family were jewellers, watchmakers and dealers. L Kramer & Co was established in Cairo in the late 1800s and became a purveyor to the Khedival Family.

Leon Kramer & Co premises in Cairo in 1901

Leon Kramer & Co. premises in Cairo in 1901

His son, Adolphe, was born in Cairo in 1893 and studied commerce at the University of Stuttgart. He also became the court jeweller for King Farouk and lived in Zamalek until he moved to the United States in 1945. He lived in New York and worked in the real estate and restaurant industries. He wrote an article once where he talked about the crown he made for Queen Farida’s wedding, he described it as an “allegory of ancient and modern Egypt.” This leads me to believe that these are definitely lotus flowers, not peacocks.

1954 article by AD Kramer, found in the Des Moines Times

Kramer, however, mentioned that the tiara was made of diamonds and emeralds. He may be referring to the emerald pendant the Queen sometimes wore with the tiara, or the tiara really contained emeralds and we can’t tell from the images. I couldn’t find more information on the items he and his family made of the royal family, and I wonder if he also made Queen Farida’s white and yellow diamond flower tiara.

Queen Farida’s wedding earrings

On her wedding day, Farida also wore diamond chandelier earrings, but their origins are unknown. Cartier was requested to send over jewellery for the new queen to choose from. Perhaps this pair was her selection.

Queen Farida wearing the Boucheron necklace on her wedding day

As the first Queen Consort of Egypt to undertake public duties, Queen Farida’s popularity grew larger day after day. But behind the palace gates, drama was brewing between her, her mother-in-law, and her husband. Farida gave birth to three daughters, and by 1945, she and Farouk separated for the last time.

Queen Farida wearing the Boucheron necklace with a convertible necklace tiara

Queen Farida wearing the Boucheron necklace with a convertible necklace tiara

A royal divorce and a jewellery dispute

After years of Queen Farida quitting public life and demanding a divorce, the royal couple finally divorced in 1948. This caused much anger all over Egypt. Farida was very popular, and she was the link between the public and their sovereign. People went on protests with slogans of how Farida was too good and pure to be Farouk’s wife!

In his book “The Fall of a Regime, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal tells a story of the Queen’s divorce as recounted by Princess Samiha Hussein to the British Embassy. After she was notified that the king had finally decided to grant her divorce, Farida was told that the king ordered her to return all the jewellery he had given to her at the time of the marriage and during her years of marriage, even those gifts. The queen agreed to return her wedding tiara immediately and acknowledged that the tiara was missing a diamond and that she was willing to cover the cost of replacing it. The queen, however, refused to return gifts she received during her marriage. There was no mention of the necklace in Heikal’s book but based on the article, we can assume it was the same case as the tiara.

Queen Farida wearing the lotus tiara with a lady-in-waiting behind her

Queen Farida wearing the lotus tiara with a lady-in-waiting behind her

So who owned Queen Farida’s wedding tiara and necklace?

For years, I did not know if this story was true. But I recently found confirmation in an article from The Belfast Telegraph, published on the day of the wedding on January 20th, 1938, that mentioned that the King had decided that the jewellery given to his bride was to be placed in trust for future queens.

The idea of a trust or a foundation for royal jewels was a method already used in several countries in Europe like Sweden. The purpose is to keep royal jewellery collections intact, to make sure that royal women had access to jewellery and to avoid the disbursement of substantial parures outside of the ruling line through inheritance. For countries with inheritance taxes, this way also a way of skipping that.

Even though Egyptian magazines like Al Mussawar were quite open about the extravagant gifts, they failed to mention that the Queen did not really own any of them. Interestingly, Queen Nazli, who had one of the biggest jewellery collections in the world, did not give up any of her jewels for the trust. So, it seems that Queen Farida got the short end of the diamond-studded stick.

What happened to the Jewellery?

The tiara and necklace were definitely returned to the King upon the divorce. I personally believe that they were reconfigured and worn by Queen Narriman on her wedding. When the 23rd of July coup happened in 1952, and the King went into exile, he took some of the jewellery with him, but left the majority behind. On November 20th 1974, Queen Narriman’s necklace was auctioned by Christie’s in Geneva. It’s now most likely in a private collection.

The earrings are on display at The Royal Jewels Museum in Alexandria. There is a video from British Pathé, filmed in December 1954, prior to an auction. But it seems that they were never sold. This comes as no surprise as the government organized several sales in the 1950s for jewellery belonging to Queen Farida and Princess Shivakiar.

On March the 29th 1957 many newspapers published that an auction would take place in Cairo and a diamond tiara that belonged to Queen Farida would be in the auction along with some rare stamps and other royal properties. The government even sent the pieces on a European tour, but they were not sold.

The Milwaukee Sentinel

Most of the jewellery in the video is now at the museum.

Photograph by The Royal Couturier

There was once a proposed project to restore The Baron Empain Palace in Heliopolis and turn it into another royal jewellery museum, but the palace is now a Heliopolis history museum. In the future, maybe a reporter will be lucky enough to browse the HUGE collection kept in storehouses.


A Royal Find:

In April 1950, Life magazine published this photo of Queen Farida, King Farouk, and Queen Nazli and wrote under it that it was taken on his wedding day, so we can guess that this was one of the wedding balls in 1938 (Yes, they had several galas and balls).

Queen Farida seems to be wearing the same earrings along with her Boucheron necklace and a different tiara; looking at the video from British Pathé, we can see the same tiara but this time as a necklace!

And So now we know that Her Majesty had a convertible piece of jewellery! However, Farida didn’t seem to wear this tiara/necklace often; we have a few pictures of it as a tiara but never as a necklace..

Farida was wearing a lace long-sleeved gown.

Priness Shivakiar, Princess Nimetalla Mokhtar, Sultana Melek and Queen Farida.
Queen Farida wearing the tiara several years after the wedding for her birthday photo session (With the Boucheron Necklace).

But we are sure that Queen Nazli is wearing Chanel as we know that Chanel had the honour of creating all of the Queen’s gowns for the wedding as well as the young princesses’ gowns. This means that the dress worn by Princess Fawzia below was designed by Chanel.


The Queen’s mother’s ensemble is a sleeveless V-neck dress with a fur cape on top of it. Queen Nazli is also wearing a tiara that she didn’t wear so often, and in later years would lend to the young Princess Faiza, and stacked bracelets with probably rubies that by that time she had been owning for many years, as we can see them in this picture.

I think the Peacock tiara is unique, And the fact that it’s made of diamonds only makes it versatile and easier to match with clothes and sashes, but if it really had an emerald which is unlikely it would make it harder to match, I also think Queen Farida had the personality to pull it off, What do you think about it?