The Grey Lady, Part IV: The Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw

GL diadem stone

To take a brief break from sewing, the first accessory I purchased for this outfit was a no-brainer*: the Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw. I’d considered making my own without being shackled to the movie version, but let’s face it, the movie version is actually reasonably attractive and at $9.99 for an eBay knockoff there’s no way I’d be able to make something equally nice for as little money. So I ordered it, and figured that I could remove some of the larger dangly jewels if they turned out to look too hokey.

Unfortunately, when it arrived there were several issues– first and foremost, it was angled so sharply that it was impossible to wear– seriously, there was a clear inch of space between my head and the curve of the diadem, and there was no way to bend it to fit. Also, despite the side pieces being too short to wear as an actual headband, there were no loops or anything else to pin the diadem to the head– so even if it had been angled properly it would’ve fallen off easily. Clearly, something had to be done.

GL diadem before

I inspected the joins between the central jewel setting and the side pieces and realized that they were soldered far too well to simply detach and re-attach at a better angle, so I turned to brute force. I bent the diadem back and forth several times until I noticed a weak point in the central open-back setting. The jewel popped out, which I didn’t mind because (another issue) it was much lighter-colored, flatter, and less faceted than the one in the eBay photo. Finally, after a bit more bending the oval of the setting cracked open, allowing me to spread the sides of the diadem outward to fit my head. (Thank you manufacturers, for being too cheap to spring for a flat-back setting that would’ve kept me from doing this)

GL diadem broken

(ignore all the cat fur on the background– it gravitates towards black surfaces)

To preserve the structural integrity of the diadem as much as possible I got out some 18-gauge aluminum wire, twisted two strands together to make it stiffer (the aluminum stuff is pretty bendy), and ran it along the inner bottom edge to bridge the gap in the setting, using E6000 to glue it in. While it was drying I used twist ties to keep the wire in place. I also cut off the dangly jewels at the bottom entirely– they didn’t add anything to the look of the diadem when worn, and they looked kind of silly.

GL diadem ties

Then I found an old metal headband and used 26-gauge wire to attach it to the base of the diadem for additional structural support, winding the thin wire around the 18-gauge wire twist so it wouldn’t show from the front. I also wired in two loops along the bottom so I could use pins or clips to further secure it to my head. Now the diadem actually fits my head and sits firmly in place.

GL diadem loops

Of course, then I was stuck with a broken, asymmetric central setting and a cheap-looking jewel. I decided to use more E6000 to mount a separate setting on the diadem, with a wider border to cover the distortion of the original. Then I replaced the central jewel with a cabochon made of blue goldstone. I’ve always liked the look of it but never had a reason to buy a piece– it reminds me of stars in the night sky, looks great on the diadem, and is comparable in price to buying a nice glass jewel of the correct size.

GL diadem done

Overall, I like the way this piece turned out, though if I’d been designing from scratch I’d have made it a little shorter than it currently is– it’s definitely attention-getting at this size. I get the feeling the one in the movie was differently (and better) proportioned, but what can you expect from a knockoff? I’m happy with it now, at least.

So, takeaway from this experience? Do not order the Ravenclaw diadem off of eBay** for a costume unless you’re prepared to do some serious modification. It will not fit your head. It will not fit your 3-year-old’s head (I know, I tried it on her). It will not fit anyone’s head, and even if it does it will immediately fall off. This thing is clearly meant as a prop, not as a costume component. But if you really do want to wear it, feel free to contact me for more tips on how to make it work.

* There’s a pun in there somewhere, I just know it…

**I note that the Noble Collection made their own version of the diadem back when the movie came out, which retailed for $129.99 and is no longer available on their website. That one appears to actually be wearable, so if you have the opportunity to get one and can afford it, go for it. Be careful, many of the eBay knockoff listings use the photo from the Noble Collection as one of their stock photos, even though the actual item being sold is different– the telltales are the inscription (the Noble inscription has extra curlicues on each side), extra feathers on the neck of the raven, and the fact that the dangling jewel piece is two separate articulated jewels in the Noble diadem and one solid piece in the eBay version.

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3 thoughts on “The Grey Lady, Part IV: The Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw

    • Sure, I’ll shoot you an email and we can discuss! Though honestly, I’m not sure I’d call the diadem really “wearable,” since it started to make my head ache after a few hours and I was happy to take it off…

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