Bridal crown (brudkrona), 18th or 19th century. Museum no. 1354-1873

Bridal crown (brudkrona), 18th or 19th century. Museum no. 1354-1873

Bridal crown (brudkrona)
Maker unknown
Sweden
18th or 19th century
Silver partly gilt
Height 9.6 cm
Museum no. 1354-1873
© Victoria & Albert Museum, London

This small silver-gilt bridal crown has six upright openwork elements of renaissance inspiration, joined together at the top by a ring of silver-gilt wire, with applied winged angel's heads. There are numerous pendant leaves on all parts. The band at the base is decorated with pyramidal points and more winged angel heads in silver.

Throughout the world brides wear special jewellery, such as tiaras or crowns, to reflect this. In Scandinavia, bridal crowns are the most spectacular part of the wedding jewellery. Their design is based on medieval royal originals, and they are made of heavy silver, often gilded.

In Sweden all brides wore some kind of special headdress. Gilded silver crowns were worn particularly in the east of the country, but crowns made of cloth, richly decorated with ribbons, beads, and metallic lace, were also common. Swedish bridal crowns were originally full-size, but during the 18th century they became smaller, and were worn on the top of the head.

Bridal crowns were always expensive. The bride usually hired her crown, as few families were rich enough to own their own. In Sweden most were owned by the parish church. This tradition dates from the time when church weddings were not compulsory. The church provided rich crowns to encourage people to marry there.

The renaissance decoration of this crown is typical of Swedish crowns of the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of the motifs used, such as angel's heads with wings, and leaf pendants, are also found on other pieces of Swedish traditional jewellery. It was bought for £9 at the International Exhibition, London, 1872.