The late Queen Elizabeth’s jewels are not only some of the most valuable and spectacular of any collection, but intimately linked to our memories of this outstanding monarch. But which jewels are most closely connected to our shared recollection of the Queen?
The Diamond Diadem (above) follows the Imperial State Crown in fame as the Queen wore it on her way to her coronation as well as in 1952 to the first State Opening of Parliament of her reign. Since then, the Queen has worn it to every State Opening making it a highly visible jewel. This crown was made by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell in 1820 and is set with 1,333 diamonds and a pale yellow diamond inside the front cross, all resting on a pearl and diamond bandeau. The motifs of the thistle, rose and shamrock are symbols of Scotland, England and Ireland and therefore symbolic of the unity of the nation. The Queen is shown wearing this diadem on some British stamps making it instantly recognizable around the world.
Another unforgettable jewel that makes up the ten most memorable worn by the Queen are the Coronation Necklace and Earrings (above) that Her Majesty also wore at her coronation and on many other high profile occasions. After Queen Victoria lost a significant number of jewels to her relatives the Hanovers, Garrard was commissioned to remove diamonds from swords and other little-used items in the Queen’s collection to make up the necklace. The simplicity of the design allows the 25 graduated cushion-shaped brilliant-cut diamonds and a central drop-shaped pendant of 22.48 carats to shine. The necklace and later matching earrings were subsequently worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother).
After the Diamond Diadem, The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara (above) is one of the most recognizable jewels from the Queen’s own collection. The Queen wore the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara on some Bank of England and Commonwealth currency notes and coins making it one of the most iconic jewels in her collection. Lady Eva Greville, one of Queen Mary’s ladies-in-waiting, headed a commission to raise funds for the gift of the tiara made by Garrard & Co in 1893. The occasion was the future Queen Mary’s marriage to George VI in 1893. The tiara is designed so that it can be unclipped from its frame and worn as a necklace. The original version was tipped with pearls but Queen Mary replaced these with 13 impressive diamonds from the Surrey tiara. Queen Mary was known for her love of jewels and was ever recycling and re-modelling pieces and these pearls were then set into the Lover’s Knot tiara.
The Queen made an art of wearing jewels, and particularly brooches that are so suited to her duties. Worn high on the left shoulder they are visible even when sitting in a car or carriage. They can be worn on coats for outdoor events and are the largest of all jewels that can be worn both day and night making them easy to spot from faraway. Though it is not the most valuable, one of the brooches she wore regularly is the Dorset Bow brooch (above) given to the then Princess Elizabeth by her grandmother Queen Mary for her wedding in 1947.
Most impressive and valuable of all the Queen’s brooches is the Cullinan brooch (below). The brooch is composed of diamonds II and IV from the 3,106-carat rough stone discovered in the Premier Mine in South Africa, in 1905. The diamond was given to King Edward in 1907 by the Transvaal Government and sent by post in a teapot, while a decoy travelled via a highly publicized sea voyage.
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