Lucille Tiaras: A Sparkling Business
Published on 31st May 2016
In the build up to the Royal Wedding, there was much discussion and anticipation as to what the Duchess of Cambridge might wear. Central to that discussion was the dress – Kate eventually wore a design by Sarah Burton of fashion house Alexander McQueen.
But the bookies were also taking bets on which tiara the Princess would wear.
The ‘favourite’ was the Cambridge Lovers Knot tiara, presented to Princess Diana by The Queen as a wedding present in 1981. But instead, the Duchess wore a Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, loaned by The Queen. Commissioned in 1936 by the Duke of York (King George VI) for his wife Elizabeth, the tiara has 739 brilliant cut diamonds and 149 baguette cut diamonds.
Such a valuable tiara is of course beyond the realm of brides who do not have access to the Crown Jewels. However, skilled tiara makers are able to create beautiful, elegant and authentic looking headwear for a fraction of the price.
One of those people is Lucy Stevens, who runs Lucibelle Tiaras from a studio at her Horsham home.
“I started making tiaras in 2012,” said Lucy. “My two children had started school and I was looking for a hobby. One of my favourite authors, Carol Matthews, had written a book about a lady starting her own business and that really inspired me to give it a go.
“My initial plan was to learn the skill of millinery (the designing of hats.) Most of the milliners were based in London and it wasn’t practical, so instead I learnt how to make and design tiaras from a teacher in Loxwood. As soon as I tried it, I enjoyed making tiaras. Once I had learnt the basics, it was just a matter of practicing and developing different patterns and techniques.”
Each tiara is created using a simple silver-plated Alice band, then decorated with Swarovski crystals, sourced from Covent Garden, all linked and held together with silver wiring.
Some tiara designs are relatively basic, with a pretty array of crystals and little in the way of intricate handicraft. They might cost only £25. It is the time needed to create a more difficult design, as well as any inclusion of higher quality crystals, that raises the cost.
“The crystals I use look fantastic yet they are not expensive, as people do not have the budget for costly tiaras,” said Lucy. That is why I use silver plated Alice bands as well, as sterling silver adds to the cost, so it’s really the time it takes to create a tiara that effects the price.
“I like to add flowers and leaves, bumblebees or butterflies into my designs, which does take longer. Much of my work has a nature-inspired theme as that is what I enjoy doing the most! Some people like to add pearls to a tiara as well. I use Swarovski pearls, available in a variety of colours, but you can of course have genuine pearls, which are more expensive. They are usually white and cream, but Peacock pearls carry a beautiful darker colour”.
“The improvements in my technique since I started the business are noticeable, but I feel I’m still learning, and I’m always trying new things. That can be time-consuming and you can spend an hour on a design that simply doesn’t work, but you need to do that to discover what works well.”
For some time now, tiara fashion has been inspired by a vintage look and style. The bright, sparkling tiaras of the 1980s and 1990s with the rising decorations and central peak are seemingly out of vogue. Instead, it is floral patterns and side-patterned tiaras that are more commonly chosen for a bridal party.
Lucy said: “Perhaps the more traditional style of tiara is now more commonly associated with beauty pageants, as most brides prefer a more modest, vintage look. At the moment, people don’t like things to be too ‘bling’ but fashions change.
“I also make coronets, which look wonderful if your hair is styled in a ‘bun’. Another popular style are hair vines, creating vines of floral patterns on a silver wire. They are quite flexible in terms of design and offer a very different look.”
There are occasions when Lucy creates a unique tiara to match an outfit or existing piece of jewellery.
With such a range of crystal colours available – and more people prepared to be different when it comes to tiaras – there are countless possibilities.
“Recently, somebody came to me with a brooch,” explains Lucy. “It was decorated with beautiful, bright blue stones, which perfectly matched her wedding dress. I was able to incorporate the brooch into a new tiara, which was fantastic as it was taking something she had chosen herself and using it in a way that was fresh and complementary to the dress.”
“We do see a lot of blues being used at the moment, as well as the darker, oil effect crystals as they offer a variety of colour.”
Having run the business as a hobby for the first couple of years, Lucy decided to focus more on expanding the business including designing and making other jewellery pieces using the wiring technique.
Early success came through a Facebook page, whilst author Carole Matthews replied to a message from Lucy and helped spread the word further - even wearing a Lucibelle tiara to a publication day.
Now, Lucy has a dedicated website, where most of her customers stem from. She has also become a member of Horsham Artists Open Studios and has spread the business to the capital.
“My tiaras have been selected for www.littlebookforbrides.com and my pieces are for sale in Beadworks, which is the traditional beadwork shop in Covent Garden. It is quite an honour to have my products on sale in Covent Garden, although most of my sales are made online, as brides tend to look at tiaras after they have chosen their dress.
“On the website, people can view the gallery, with everything from a basic design with Alice band for £25, to intricately-designed tiaras for £135. We send them all in a nice gift box with good quality tissue paper tied with Lucibelle ribbon, as we know that it is very exciting for the bride and bridesmaids to open them up. It adds to the experience of the special day.”
You can view more of Lucy’s products online at www.lucibelle.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org