If indeed there are historical references in modern fashion - Empress Josephine gowns, 1930s beaded flapper dresses, flashbacks of 1970s kitsch - then perhaps the resurgence of the tiara makes sense. At least that would be the only plausible explanation for the growing fascination with the richly ornamental headpieces. Traditionally associated with the formal garb of nobility, tiaras appear to be enjoying new-found popularity in Chinese society, along with a red cheongsam and heavy gold jewellery, and a Western wedding wardrobe is no longer complete without a gem-studded accessory to top it all off. 'Nowadays, young women seem to like the idea of wearing a tiara on their wedding day, to be like a princess,' said fashion designer and socialite couturier Barney Cheng. 'It is about the only day they can get away with it.' The tiara trend is one that Cheng has noticed throughout the ranks: the wealthy flock to auction houses to search for precious antiques headpieces, while others head to their neighbourhood bridal salon or to wholesalers of rhinestone junk-jewellery in Wing Kut Street in Central for a $60 version. Pansy Ho, daughter of tycoon Stanley Ho, wore a diamond tiara for her wedding a few years ago, starting a trend for the genre that has intensified. More recently, socialite Yvette Yuen also sported a tiara for her nuptials. 'There are some women who take the tiara thing quite seriously and go for the glamour of it, wanting to be like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's ,' said Cheng. 'But there are others who look at the tiara as a bit of fun, a way of camping it up.' Jewellery experts agree that precious tiaras are being snapped up at auction. 'I would say there is a bigger demand for tiaras now than ever before,' said Vickie Sek, assistant director of the jewellery department at Christie's. 'Women are even buying them for their young daughters, keeping them for the future,' she said. Ms Sek said the current local interest in tiaras was part of a worldwide trend; at recent jewellery sales in Geneva and New York, some of the signed antique pieces went for three to four times the original estimate. She believes this 'reflects that a lot of people everywhere are looking for tiaras'. As part of their auction on September 17 at the Grand Hyatt, Christie's will be showcasing two tiaras which can also be worn as necklaces: an 1890 ruby and diamond piece signed by T B Starr is expected to fetch $2.5 million, while a smaller diamond and seed pearl piece from 1920, is a more reasonable buy at $230,000. Ms Sek said antique diamond-studded headgear was hard to find. Socialite Ruby Yao is 'desperately looking for a tiara for her wedding' said Ms Sek, as are other women who buy the first one they see because they might not find anything more suitable. 'They are not a completely unaffordable investment either,' said Ms Sek. 'You can still find a few around for between $80,000 and $240,000, which is not bad if you consider you can turn it into a necklace and continue wearing it. 'Buyers have to remember that a tiara is really for a wedding or a very special occasion. For an evening out, it might be a little too much.' Mr Cheng is often consulted by high-society brides on the lookout for a diamond tiara that will be their crowning glory on their wedding day; dealers in London and New York send photographs of possibilities to potential brides, and await their decision. But while auction house Sotheby's has seen a few choice items pass through its hands - the one given to Empress Josephine by Napoleon was sold by Sotheby's and is now on exhibition at the Louvre in Paris - its jewellery expert said there was 'no visible trend'. 'That is the kind of level we deal in, not cute little diamond headbands that people might attach to their veils,' said Lisa Hubbard, senior vice-president and director of jewellery for Asia at Sotheby's auction house. Sotheby's is also hosting an auction on September 19, but there will be no tiaras up for grabs. 'We are not at the cutting edge of fashion, unlike fashion designers who might see more of these trends. 'We reflect rather than create markets here,' she said.