Most of the jewels were acquired by or customized by Queen Mary, grandmother of the present queen. Queen Mary had a certain knack for obtaining jewels (and other precious antiques), whether by purchase or carefully dropped “hints”, which were more akin to boulders being dropped on butterflies. Her capacity to collect never diminished, even in her later years. So when the women of the British Royal Family adorn themselves in rich, sparkling diadems or brooches, they have the former German princess Mary of Teck to thank. Profusely.
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The Honorable Mrs. Margaret Greville was a popular society hostess who was a close friend and confidant of Queen Mary. Mrs. Greville also became a close friend to the Queen’s son, the Duke
of York and his wife, Elizabeth.
When Mrs. Greville passed away, she left Bertie and Elizabeth a huge collection of her jewelry. Among the pieces were these eponymous earrings. When Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten in 1947, the king and queen gave her the earrings as a wedding present. They are made of diamonds of almost every conceivable cut. [Top]
Two large brilliant-cut diamonds encircled by two rows of smaller diamonds. The inner circle is more difficult to see, but it is distinguished by what is known as a millegrain edge, often seen on wedding bands. [Top]
Queen Mary’s Button Earrings
The Button earrings were originally a wedding gift for Princess May of Teck, who was engaged to become the Duchess of York.
A committee of the “Ladies of Devonshire” in 1893 raised enough money to purchase these pearl earrings, each with a diamond stud mounted on the top. Queen Elizabeth II wears these earrings quite frequently, and are said to be her favorite. Many pieces once worn by Queen Mary are said to hold a special place in Elizabeth’s heart, and she refers affectionately to certain things as “Granny’s”. [Top]
These earrings are part of an entire suite known as the Delhi Durbar parure, commissioned
by Queen Mary for her Indian coronation alongside King George V in 1911.
Dozens of stunning emeralds were handed down from Queen Mary’s grandmother, the Duchess of Cambridge, a daughter-in-law of King George III. The Duchess passed the emeralds to her daughter, Princess Mary-Adelaide, who passed them to her son, Francis, Mary’s brother. When Francis died, Mary requested that his mistress return the emeralds to the family. The woman complied, and Mary set to work having the loose gems made into historic suites of jewels.
Out of these emeralds and small Cullinan diamonds, Mary commissioned these Delhi Durbar earrings, brooches, a stomacher (that could be converted into more brooches), necklaces, and tiaras. [Top]
The Queen’s Pear Drop earrings are set in gold, dangling from small baguettes attached to diamond studs. They are diamonds from the personal family collection, and were often seen on Her Majesty and on her former daughter-in-law, the late Princess of Wales. [Top]