Two children sit at a table making crowns with paper plates

Often made from gold, silver, or other metal bands and embellished with gems or jewels, crowns are among the most prevalent symbols of royal or saintly status.

In the illumination below, King Louis XII of France kneels atop a cushion with a fleur-de-lis design (a stylized lily flower) that symbolizes French royalty. Four saints make up his entourage: Michael the Archangel, wearing a diadem and holding a cruciform staff; Charlemagne, with the hoop crown of the Holy Roman Empire; Louis IX with the crown of France; and Denis, patron saint of the royal household, shown dressed in bishop’s robes and wearing a miter on his head.

Louis XII kneels in a golden tunic, with a helmet wearing a crown placed in front of him. Four people stand around him, all wearing crowns

Louis XII of France Kneeling in Prayer, Accompanied by Saints Michael, Charlemagne, Louis, and Denis, 1498–99, Jean Bourdichon. Tempera and gold on parchment, 9 9/16 × 6 3/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 79a (2004.1), recto. Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the crown’s jewels carried their own symbolism.  For example, emeralds could be used to predict the future, diamonds could protect against nightmares, rubies could neutralize poison, sapphires could make the wearer joyous, and turquoise could ward off all evil.

Four angels place a crown on a woman's head while six other angels look on

The Coronation of the Virgin, about 1480–1490, Jean Bourdichon. Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold and silver paint, and ink on parchment, 4 1/2 × 3 3/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 48 (93.ML.6), fol. 73v. Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program

To understand the power of these gems, the wearer would turn to a manuscript called a lapidary, which contained scientific and medicinal accounts about precious and semi-precious stones. This type of book was often read together with a bestiary (a book of beasts), an herbal (a book of plants), and other medicinal texts (including treatises on alchemy and pigments)—making these the ultimate gift for anyone interested in the natural world.

Mary holds the baby Jesus while the three kings present their gifts

The Adoration of the Magi, about 1480–90, Georges Trubert. Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold and silver paint, and ink on parchment, 4 1/2 × 3 3/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 48 (93.ML.6), fol. 59. Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program

There is no limit to the types of crowns you can make. Find in-depth, step-by-step instructions for a radiant crown, a coronation crown, and a royal crown here. 

How to Make a Radiant Crown

The radiant crown rings the wearer’s head like a sunburst, with gold, silver, or other metallic bands emerging like rays of light. Manuscript illuminator Taddeo Crivelli depicted the biblical King David wearing such a crown and included golden light from heaven to suggest a dialogue between the figure and God beyond.

A bearded man with red robes and a crown faces upward right in supplication

Initial D: David in Prayer, about 1469, Taddeo Crivelli. Tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment, 4 1/4 × 3 1/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig IX 13 (83.ML.109), fol. 78v. Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program

First, gather your materials

A completed crown sits on a blue surface alongside pens, stickers, and other crafting materials

Primary: construction paper, cardstock, paper plates, crayons, colored pencils, markers, paints, brushes, glue (glue sticks or white glue), tape, scissors, ruler

Optional: stapler, glue gun, hole punch

Alternative: paper bags, gift bags, scrapbook papers, cereal boxes, lightweight cardboard or foam sheets

Royal Bling: decorative stickers, glitter, sequins, tin foil, noodles, cereal, lace, pompoms, pipe cleaners, or cut paper shapes. You can cut or hole-punch elements from old greeting cards or wrapping paper for more decorative options. Use your imagination!

Tips for starting

  • Gather all materials beforehand. If you don’t have the exact materials, improvise! (cereal boxes make a great base for a crown!)
  • Try a practice run to get familiar with the crown designs.
  • Think about who or what you are celebrating as you decorate your crown. Make it personally meaningful and have fun!


Paper plates being decorated with yellow, orange and red markers
Paper plates folded in half, one is being cut with pie-shaped slices
Paper plates with pie-shaped cuts being turned up to form crown points
  1. Get a paper plate (preferably 9 inches in diameter, uncoated)
  2. Decorate the backside with paint, crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc.
  3. Let dry.
  4. Fold the paper plate in half so decorated side is visible.
  5. Cut through the center of the folded plate. Start the cut at the folded edge, leaving an inch of uncut border at the open edge.
  6. Next, make similar cuts through the center of the two halves created to make four equal triangles (or imagine four slices of pie!).
  7. Open the paper plate and cut the two larger triangles in half (along the crease line) for a total of eight triangles.
  8. With decorated side up, fold each triangle up and away from the center to form the rays of the crown.
  9. Crease each triangle or ray at the base so they stand upright.
  10. Enjoy the royal treatment! Or continue to embellish with lightweight decorations like stickers, glitter, sequins, lace, and cut paper shapes.

Two completed paper crowns

The “radiant crown” or “sun crown” is distinguished by its ray-like pattern that symbolizes the power of the sun. It is an ancient crown shape that you might recognize from the Statue of Liberty.

Find more crown projects for all ages here. 

A family of four--two dads, a boy and a girl--all wear crafted crowns

The author and his family wear the crowns they made.