coronet (kôrˌənĕtˈ, kŏrˌə–) [key], head attire of a noble of high rank, worn on state occasions. It is inferior to the crown. British peers wear their coronets at the coronation of their sovereign. Although dukes wore coronets to mark their rank by the 14th cent., it was in the reign of Elizabeth I that individual patterns were adopted for other peers, and barons received distinguishing insignia in 1661. The coronet of a duke is bordered by 8 strawberry leaves; that of a marquess, by 4 strawberry leaves alternating with 4 silver balls (sometimes called pearls) on low points; that of an earl, by 8 strawberry leaves alternating with 8 silver balls on high points; that of a viscount, by 16 silver balls on the rim; that of a baron, by 6 silver balls on the gold rim.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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