What could be more breathtaking than a gorgeous diamond tiara? Perhaps a bracelet studded with rubies, or a necklace that wreathes your collarbone in emeralds?
I bring you the Royal Jewels, steeped in history and adding sparkle to the most famous royal women of our time. These pieces are the basics that every new royal watcher should be able to recognize instantly.
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.
Queen Victoria’s Collet Necklace
Also known as “The Coronation Necklace” and “The Coronation Earrings”, this set was created by Garrard & Co. in 1858 for – who else? – Queen Victoria! The name comes from the fact that this set was passed down and worn at subsequent coronations: Victoria’s daughter-in-law, Queen Alexandra in 1901 (with her husband, Edward VII); Queen Mary in 1911 (with George V); Queen Elizabeth in 1937 (with George VI); and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
The necklace is made up of 25 graduated cushion-cut brilliant diamonds set in silver. The large pendant diamond weighs 22.48 metric carats, and is also known as the Lahore Diamond.
Queen Victoria wears this necklace, along with the matching earrings, in her famous Winterhalter portrait. The current Queen Elizabeth II can be seen wearing this set on various British coinage.
The earrings are somewhat similar to the Queen’s Pear Drop earrings, but these are longer and have larger stones. They consist of cushion-cut diamonds.
The Cambridge and Delhi Durbar Necklace
Another piece named for the Cambridge emeralds which sit within. The drop on the right, Cullinan VII, weighs 8.8 carats and is a marquise cut, given to the Queen by her mother-in-law, Queen Alexandra. Mary added it to the necklace to give it an unusual look along with the cabochon emerald drop. Mary had a hand in personalizing or rearranging several pieces over the years. It was worn by Queen Mary with a matching emerald choker (the Princess of Wales used it as a headband. Very 80s!) and emerald and diamond stud earrings.
The King Faisal Necklace
Made by American jeweller Harry Winston, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia presented this necklace to the Queen on a state visit to England in 1967.
George VI Festoon Necklace
King George VI had inherited over 200 loose collet diamonds, so he decided to put them to good use and had them made into a necklace for his daughter Elizabeth. It is a three row festoon necklace with triangle motifs on the sides.
The Jubilee Necklace of Queen Victoria
This necklace was created in honor of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. The “Women of the British Empire” came together and each donated a penny and even up to a pound to commemorate Victoria’s fifty years.
An equestrian statue of Prince Albert was commissioned with the money first, and then everything that was left went to the creation of this necklace. Albert, even in death, would be the Queen’s top priority.
The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Bandeau Necklace
This Victorian-era bandeau was purchased by the King as a wedding gift to Princess Elizabeth. Its rubies are said to be precious stones given to the Queen Mother by her friend, Mrs. Greville. The necklace was seen on the Duchess of Cambridge during the Spanish State Visit in July 2017. Below, on HM the Queen.
The photos seen are from the book “The Queen’s Jewels” by Leslie Field. Many are reprinted in the book with the gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen.