Crown Jewels

updated 10/13/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/13/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

When European monarchs need headgear, they simply unlock the vaults. But where does Hollywood nobility turn for a tiara? To the woman who works seated on a throne in her L.A. foundry: designer Cynthia Bach. In addition to tiaras, Bach does bejeweled brooches, necklaces, bangles and earrings (Barbra Streisand just bought a sapphire pair) that have made fans of Sarah Jessica Parker, Cate Blanchett and Halle Berry. Bach's latest coup: Madonna wants some pieces for an upcoming video. "Bach's work has a classicism to it without being stuffy," says Blanchett. "Her influences are wonderful and varied."

Bach, 47, points to her Army-brat childhood in Europe, where she fell in love with all things old and ornamented. She and husband and business partner Jim Matthews, 62, worked for Van Cleef & Arpels before opening their own firm in 1991. Initially Bach had trouble parting with her $400-$80,000 creations. "They were like her babies," says mom Lucie Bach. But she grew less sentimental about selling (indeed: her dog's name is eBay). Now, she says, "I try to make every woman I adorn feel like royalty."

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