Queen Elizabeth Service Order Of Bath Girls Of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

The History Behind the British Royal Collection’s Most Famous Jewelry

Queen Elizabeth Service Order Of Bath Girls Of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

James Whatling/Splash News

Hello, Duchess Diary readers! I’m Ella Kay, the writer and editor of The Court Jeweller, a blog about royal and noble jewels from around the world. Kelly has graciously asked me to step in this afternoon to talk about my very favorite subject: royal jewelry. She challenged me to share five of my favorite items of jewelry from the British royal collection. With so many amazing, sparkly pieces to choose from, it was a tough job, but here are five of the best pieces in the Windsor vaults. (And — significantly for a blog about the Duchess of Cambridge — these are all pieces that are very likely to be worn one day by a future royal consort: Queen Catherine!) 

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara


Queen Elizabeth II Arrives Order Of Bath Service Westminster Abbey 2014

James Whatling/Splash News

It’s easy to see why this diamond sparkler is one of the Queen’s favorite tiaras: it’s an absolute classic. Made in 1893 by Wolff & Co. for Garrard, the tiara was a wedding gift to the current queen’s grandmother, Mary of Teck. It was presented to her by “the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland,” a committee of British women who raised funds specifically to purchase a piece of jewelry for the royal bride. Queen Elizabeth II received the tiara from Queen Mary as a wedding present in 1947, and since then it’s become one of her most-worn tiaras, with portraits of her wearing it featured on stamps and currency around the globe. It’s not only glittering but also reportedly quite light and comfortable, both important qualities in a good tiara! Above, the tiara on display at Buckingham Palace in 2007.


The Russian Sapphire and Diamond Brooch


The Queen recently wore this heirloom Romanov brooch for the first time in public. It’s an enormous, gorgeous faceted sapphire surrounded by an intricate gold pattern and eighteen round diamonds. Queen Mary purchased the brooch from the estate of the late Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia (sister of Queen Alexandra) in the 1930s, and it’s been worn now by three generations of British queens. Above, the Queen wears the brooch during her visit to the Vatican in April.

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The Queen Mother’s Cartier Art Deco Bracelets


The Queen’s jewelry collection includes five matching bracelets made by Cartier in the Art Deco style. They were purchased one by one by her father, Bertie (better known to history as King George VI), for her mother, Elizabeth (better known to us, of course, as the Queen Mother), in 1925 and 1926. Two of the bracelets are set completely with diamonds; the remaining three feature diamonds interspersed with sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. They’re interesting, they’re elegant, and even better, they come with a frame that allows three of them to be worn together as a bandeau tiara! Above, the Queen wears the two diamond bracelets with the diamond and emerald bracelet during the 2005 Italian state visit.


The Coronation Earrings


In 1858, the King of Hanover won a lawsuit that required his cousin, Queen Victoria, to hand over a number of diamond jewels that had belonged to their grandmother, Queen Charlotte. With her jewelry collection subsequently depleted, Victoria had Garrard make several new pieces for her, including a set of diamond collet earrings with large diamond pendant drops. These earrings have become known as the Coronation earrings, as they’ve been worn by Queen Mary, the Queen Mother, and Queen Elizabeth II at their respective coronations. And, as a bonus: the earrings have a matching necklace, which also has an impressive diamond pendant drop. Above, the Queen Mother wears the earrings (and necklace) in a portrait from her coronation year, 1937.


Queen Adelaide’s Diamond Fringe Necklace 


In 1831, Rundell & Bridge made a classic diamond fringe necklace for Queen Adelaide, the wife of King William IV. The piece could also be worn on a tiara frame, and that’s precisely how the next queen, Victoria, wore it. It escaped the Hanoverian diamond exodus of 1858 and has been handed down through generations of the family. Queen Alexandra wore it draped at the waist of her elaborate coronation gown, Queen Mary wore it as a tiara, and the Queen Mother wore it as a necklace, just as the jewelers had originally intended. Queen Elizabeth II inherited the necklace from her mother in 2002. Above, Queen Victoria wears the piece as a tiara in a popular illustration from 1837, the first year of her reign.


If these gorgeous bits of bling have managed to whet your appetite for royal jewelry, stop over at The Court Jeweller, where you can read daily posts about all manner of regal glitter. (You can also find me on Twitter at @courtjeweller!) This afternoon, Kelly has swapped places with me at my blog, chatting about five of her favorite jewelry pieces worn by the Duchess of Cambridge — be sure to head over and check out her choices!

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