The monarch of the Commonwealth realms, Queen Elizabeth II, owns a historic collection of jewels – some as monarch and others as a private individual. They are separate from the coronation and state regalia that make up the Crown Jewels.
The origin of a distinct royal jewel collection is vague, though it is believed the jewels have their origin somewhere in the 16th century. Many of the pieces are from overseas and were brought to the United Kingdom as a result of civil war, coups and revolutions, or acquired as gifts to the monarch. Most of the jewellery dates from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Crown Jewels are only worn at coronations (St Edward's Crown being used to crown the monarch) and the annual State Opening of Parliament (the Imperial State Crown). At other formal occasions, such as banquets, the Queen wears the jewellery in her collection. Elizabeth owns more than 300 items of jewellery, including 98 brooches, 46 necklaces, 37 bracelets, 34 pairs of earrings, 15 rings, 14 watches and 5 pendants, the most notable of which are detailed in this article.
Unlike the Crown Jewels-which mainly date from the accession of Charles II-the jewels are not official regalia or insignia. Much of the collection was designed for queens and queen consorts, though some kings have added to the collection. A few diamonds were brought to the United Kingdom from the British colonies and far away lands as the spoils of war. Most of the jewellery was purchased from other European heads of state and members of the aristocracy, or handed down by older generations of the Royal Family, often as birthday and wedding presents. In recent years, Elizabeth has worn them in her capacity as Queen of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and can be seen wearing jewels from her collection in official portraits made specially for these realms.
In 1714, with the accession of George I, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Hanover both came to be ruled in personal union by the House of Hanover. Early Hanoverian monarchs were careful to keep the heirlooms of the two realms separate. George III gave half the British heirlooms to his bride, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, as a wedding present. In her will, Charlotte left the jewels to the 'House of Hanover'. The Kingdom of Hanover followed the Salic Law, whereby the line of succession went through male heirs. Thus, when Queen Victoria acceded to the throne of the United Kingdom, her uncle Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale became King of Hanover. King Ernest demanded a portion of the jewellery, not only as the monarch of Hanover but also as the son of Queen Charlotte. Victoria flatly declined to hand over any of the jewels, claiming they had been bought with British money. Ernest's son, George V of Hanover, continued to press the claim. Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, suggested that she make a financial settlement with the Hanoverian monarch to keep the jewels, but Parliament informed the Queen they would neither purchase the jewels nor loan funds for the purpose. A parliamentary commission was set up to investigate the matter and in 1857 they found in favour of the House of Hanover. On 28 January 1858, 10 years after Ernest's death, the jewels were handed to the Hanoverian Ambassador, Count Kielmansegg. Victoria did manage to hang on to one of her favourite pieces of jewellery: a fine rope of pearls.
Items of jewellery made before the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 are regarded as heirlooms owned by the Queen in right of the Crown and pass from one monarch to the next in perpetuity. Objects made later, including official gifts, can also be added to that part of the Royal Collection at the sole discretion of the monarch. It is not possible to say how much the collection is worth because the jewels have a rich and unique history, and they will likely never be sold on the open market.
The Delhi Durbar Tiara was made by Garrard & Co. for Queen Mary, the wife of George V, to wear at the Delhi Durbar in 1911. As British law prohibited the removal of the Crown Jewels from the country, George V wore a specially made crown (the Imperial Crown of India) to the Durbar, and his consort Queen Mary wore the tiara. It was part of a set of jewellery made for Queen Mary to use at the event which included a necklace, stomacher, brooch and earrings. Made of gold and platinum, the tiara is 8 cm (3 in) tall and has the form of a tall circlet of lyres and S-scrolls linked by festoons of diamonds. It was originally set with 10 of the Cambridge emeralds, acquired by Queen Mary in 1910 and first owned by her grandmother, the Duchess of Cambridge. In 1912, the tiara was altered to take one or both of the Cullinan III and IV diamonds; the pear-shaped diamond was held at the top, and the cushion-shaped stone hung in the oval aperture underneath. Mary lent the tiara to Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) for the 1947 royal tour of South Africa, and it remained with her until she died in 2002, when it passed to Queen Elizabeth II. In 2005, the Queen lent the tiara to her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cornwall.
The George III Fringe Tiara is a circlet incorporating brilliant diamonds that were formerly owned by George III. Originally commissioned in 1830, the tiara has been worn by many queens consort. Originally, it could be worn as a collar or necklace or mounted on a wire to form the tiara. Queen Victoria wore it as a tiara during a visit to the Royal Opera in 1839. In Franz Xaver Winterhalter's painting The First of May, completed in 1851, Victoria can be seen wearing it as she holds Prince Arthur, the future Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. In a veiled reference to the adoration of the Magi, the Duke of Wellington is seen presenting the young prince with a gift.
This tiara, which can also be worn as a necklace, was made for Queen Mary in 1919. It is not, as has sometimes been claimed, made with diamonds that once belonged to George III, but reuses diamonds taken from a necklace/tiara purchased by Queen Victoria from Collingwood & Co. as a wedding present for Princess Mary in 1893. In August 1936, Mary gave the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother. When the Queen Mother, consort of George VI, first wore the tiara, Sir Henry Channon called it "an ugly spiked tiara". Later, she lent the piece to her daughter, Elizabeth, as "something borrowed" for her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947. As Elizabeth was getting dressed at Buckingham Palace before leaving for Westminster Abbey, the tiara snapped. Luckily, the court jeweller was standing by in case of any emergency, and was rushed to his work room by a police escort. The Queen Mother reassured her daughter that it would be fixed in time, and it was. She also lent it to her granddaughter, Princess Anne, for her marriage to Captain Mark Phillips in 1973. It was put on show at an exhibition with a number of other royal tiaras in 2001.
The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara (ru:Владимирская тиара), sometimes the Diamond and Pearl Tiara, was bought, along with a diamond rivière, by Queen Mary from Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, mother of the Duchess of Kent, in 1921 for a price of £28,000. The duchess, known after her marriage as Princess Nicholas of Greece, inherited it from her mother, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, who received it as a wedding gift from her husband in 1874. It originally had 15 large drop pearls, and was made by the jeweller Carl Edvard Bolin at a cost of 48,200 rubles.
During the Russian Revolution in 1917, the tiara was hidden with other jewels somewhere in Vladimir Palace in Petrograd, and later saved from Soviet Russia by Albert Stopford, a British art dealer and secret agent. In the years to follow, Princess Nicholas sold pieces of jewellery from her collection to support her exiled family and various charities.
Queen Mary had the tiara altered to accommodate 15 of the Cambridge cabochon emeralds. The original drop pearls can easily be replaced as an alternative to the emeralds. Queen Elizabeth II inherited the tiara directly from her grandmother in 1953. It is almost exclusively worn together with the Cambridge and Delhi Durbar parures, also containing large emeralds. Elizabeth wore the tiara in her official portrait as Queen of Canada as none of the Commonwealth realms besides the United Kingdom have their own crown jewels.
Elizabeth ordered the Burmese Ruby Tiara in 1973, and it was made by Garrard & Co. using stones from her private collection. It is designed in the form of a wreath of roses, with silver and diamonds making the petals, and clusters of gold and rubies forming the centre of the flowers. A total of 96 rubies are mounted on the tiara; they were originally part of a necklace given to her in 1947 as a wedding present by the people of Burma (now Myanmar), who credited them with having the ability to protect their owner from sickness and evil. The diamonds were also given to her as a wedding present, by the Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar, who possessed a vast jewellery collection of his own.
The Queen's first tiara was a wedding present in 1947 from her grandmother, Queen Mary, who received it as a gift from the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland in 1893 on the occasion of her marriage to the Duke of York, later George V. Made by E. Wolfe & Co., it was purchased from Garrard & Co. by a committee organised by Lady Eve Greville. In 1914, Mary adapted the tiara to take 13 diamonds in place of the large oriental pearls surmounting the tiara. Leslie Field, author of The Queen's Jewels, described it as, "a festoon-and-scroll with nine large oriental pearls on diamond spikes and set on a base of alternate round and lozenge collets between two plain bands of diamonds". At first, Elizabeth wore the tiara without its base and pearls but the base was reattached in 1969. The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara is one of Elizabeth's most recognisable pieces of jewellery due to its widespread use on British banknotes and coinage.
The Kokoshnik Tiara was presented to Alexandra, Princess of Wales, as a 25th wedding anniversary gift in 1888 by Lady Salisbury on behalf of 365 peeresses of the United Kingdom. She had always wanted a tiara in the style of a kokoshnik (cock's comb), a traditional Russian folk headdress, and knew the design well from a tiara belonging to her sister, Marie Feodorovna, the Empress of Russia. It was made by Garrard & Co. and has vertical white gold bars pavé-set with diamonds, the longest of which is 6.5 cm (2.5 in). In a letter to her aunt, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Princess Mary wrote, "The presents are quite magnificent [...] The ladies of society gave [Alexandra] a lovely diamond spiked tiara". Upon the death of Queen Alexandra, the tiara passed to her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary, who bequeathed it to Elizabeth in 1953.
In 1913, Queen Mary asked Garrard & Co. to make a copy of a tiara owned by her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel, using the queen's own diamonds and pearls. French in its neo-classical design, the tiara has 19 oriental pearls suspended from lover's knot bows each centred with a large brilliant. Mary left the tiara to Elizabeth II, who later gave it to Diana, Princess of Wales, as a wedding present. She wore it often, notably with her 'Elvis dress' on a visit to Hong Kong in 1989, but on her divorce from Prince Charles it was returned to the Queen. In 2015 and 2016, the Duchess of Cambridge wore it to a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace.
This tiara was a wedding present to Elizabeth from her mother-in-law, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark. The Meander Tiara is in the classical Greek key pattern, with a large diamond in the centre enclosed by a laurel wreath of diamonds. It also incorporates a wreath of leaves and scrolls on either side. The Queen has never worn this item in public, and it was given in 1972 to her daughter, Princess Anne, who has frequently worn the tiara in public, notably during her engagement to Captain Mark Phillips and for an official portrait marking her 50th birthday. Anne lent the tiara to her daughter, Zara Philips, to use at her wedding to Mike Tindall in 2011.
This tiara, made by Cartier in 1936, was purchased by the Duke of York (later George VI) for his wife (later the Queen Mother) three weeks before they became king and queen. It has a rolling cascade of 16 scrolls that converge on two central scrolls topped by a diamond. Altogether, it contains 739 brilliants and 149 baton diamonds. The tiara was given to Elizabeth on her 18th birthday in 1944, and was borrowed by Princess Margaret, who used it at the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Later, Elizabeth lent the Halo Tiara to Princess Anne, before giving her the Greek Meander Tiara in 1972. The Halo Tiara was lent to the Duchess of Cambridge to use at her wedding to Prince William in 2011.
Like the Coronation Necklace, these earrings have been worn by queens regnant and consort at every coronation since 1901. Made for Queen Victoria in 1858 using the diamonds from an old Garter badge, they are of typical design: a large brilliant followed by a smaller one, with a large pear-shaped drop. The drops were originally part of the Koh-i-Noor armlet. After they had been made, Victoria wore the earrings and matching necklace in the painting Queen Victoria by the European court painter, Franz Winterhalter.
These 7.5 cm (3 in) long chandelier earrings made by Cartier in 1929 have three large drops adorned with every modern cut of diamond. The earrings were purchased by Margaret Greville, who left them to her friend the Queen Mother in 1942, and Elizabeth's parents gave them to her in 1947 as a wedding present. However, she was not able to use them until she had her ears pierced. When the public noticed that her ears had been pierced, doctors and jewellers found themselves inundated with requests by women anxious to have their ears pierced too.
As well as the chandelier earrings, and 60 other pieces of jewellery, Mrs Greville left the Queen Mother a set of pear-drop earrings that she had bought from Cartier in 1938. The pear-shaped drop diamonds each weigh about 20 carats (4 g). Diana, Princess of Wales, borrowed them in 1983 to wear on her first official visit to Australia. At a state banquet, she wore the earrings with a tiara from her family's own collection. The Greville Pear-drop Earrings passed to the Queen upon her mother's death in 2002.
A pair of large, perfectly matched brilliant cut diamonds set as ear studs for Queen Victoria.
Both necklaces consist of a single row of large graduated pearls with pearl clasps. The Queen Anne necklace is said to have belonged to Queen Anne, the last British monarch of the Stuart dynasty. Horace Walpole, the English art historian, wrote in his diary, "Queen Anne had but few jewels and those indifferent, except one pearl necklace given to her by Prince George". Queen Caroline, on the other hand, had a great deal of valuable jewellery, including no fewer than four pearl necklaces. She wore all the pearl necklaces to her coronation in 1727, but afterwards had the 50 best pearls selected to make one large necklace. In 1947, both necklaces were given to Elizabeth by her father as a wedding present. On her wedding day, Elizabeth realised that she had left her pearls at St James's Palace. Her private secretary, Jock Colville, was asked to go and retrieve them. He commandeered the limousine of King Haakon VII of Norway, but traffic that morning had stopped, so even the king's car with its royal flag flying could not get anywhere. Colville completed his journey on foot, and when he arrived at St James's Palace, he had to explain the odd story to the guards who were protecting Elizabeth's 2,660 wedding presents. They let him in after finding his name on a guest list, and he was able to get the pearls to the princess in time for her portrait in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace.
A gift from King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, it is a fringe necklace in design and set with brilliant and baguette cut diamonds. King Faisal bought the necklace, made by the American jeweller Harry Winston, and presented it to her while on a state visit to the United Kingdom in 1967. Before his departure, the Queen wore it to a banquet at the Dorchester hotel. She also lent the necklace to Diana, Princess of Wales, to wear on a state visit to Australia in 1983.
In 1947, George VI commissioned a three-strand necklace with over 150 brilliant cut diamonds from his inherited collection. It consists of three small rows of diamonds with a triangle motif. The minimum weight of this necklace is estimated to be 170 carats (34 g).
This necklace was given to the Queen by King Khalid of Saudi Arabia in 1979. It is of the sunray design and contains both round and pear shaped diamonds. Like the King Faisal necklace, it was made by Harry Winston, and the Queen often lent the necklace to Diana, Princess of Wales.
For the coronation of her husband, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother wore Queen Victoria's collet necklace along with a much larger one. The necklace's carat weight has never been disclosed, but it is clear from photos that it contains approximately 45 large diamond collets.
Made for Queen Victoria in 1858 by Garrard & Co., the Coronation Necklace is 38 cm (15 in) long and consists of 25 cushion diamonds and the 22-carat (4.4 g) Lahore Diamond as a pendant. It has been used together with the Coronation Earrings by queens regnant and consort at every coronation since 1901.
A diamond necklace made by Cartier in the 1930s. It was a wedding gift to Elizabeth on her wedding to Prince Philip from the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, in 1947. The Duchess of Cambridge wore the necklace to a charity function at the National Portrait Gallery in 2014.
Cullinan III and IV are two of several stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond in 1905. The large diamond, found in South Africa, was presented to Edward VII on his 66th birthday. Two of the stones cut from the diamond were the 94.4-carat (18.88 g) Cullinan III, a clear pear-shaped stone, and a 63.6-carat (12.72 g) cushion-shaped stone. Queen Mary had these stones made into a brooch with the Cullinan III hanging from IV. Elizabeth inherited the brooch in 1953 from her grandmother. On 25 March 1958, while she and Prince Philip were on a state visit to the Netherlands, the Queen revealed that Cullinan III and IV are known in her family as "Granny's Chips". The couple visited the Asscher Diamond Company, where the Cullinan had been cut 50 years earlier. It was the first time the Queen had publicly worn the brooch. During her visit, she unpinned the brooch and offered it for examination to Louis Asscher, the brother of Joseph Asscher who had originally cut the diamond. Elderly and almost blind, Asscher was deeply moved by the fact the Queen had brought the diamonds with her, knowing how much it would mean to him seeing them again after so many years.
The smaller 18.8-carat (3.76 g) Cullinan V is a heart-shaped diamond cut from the same rough gem as III and IV. It is set in the centre of a platinum brooch that formed a part of the stomacher made for Queen Mary to wear at the Delhi Durbar in 1911. The brooch was designed to show off Cullinan V and is pavé-set with a border of smaller diamonds. It can be suspended from the VIII brooch and can be used to suspend the VII pendant. It was often worn like this by Mary who left all the brooches to Elizabeth when she died in 1953.
The Prince Albert sapphire brooch was given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace on 9 February 1840. It was the day before their wedding, and Victoria wrote in her diary that Albert came to her sitting room and gave her "a beautiful sapphire and diamond brooch". The centre stone is a large oblong sapphire surrounded by 12 round diamonds. It passed from Victoria to the queen consorts, Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and the Queen Mother, then passed to Elizabeth on her accession to the throne.
Commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1858, Garrard & Co. made a set of three large bow brooches containing more than 506 diamonds. There is no record of Queen Victoria ever wearing them; Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, the Queen Mother and Elizabeth were seen wearing them frequently. The brooches are often adjusted to contain a large pearl or emerald diamond drop. Queen Mary was pictured on more than one occasion with the smaller Cullinan diamonds as the drops.
A parure is a set of matching jewellery to be used together which first became popular in 17th-century Europe.
The Brazil Parure is one of the newest items of jewellery in the collection. In 1953, the president and people of Brazil presented Elizabeth II with the coronation gift of a necklace and matching pendant earrings of aquamarines and diamonds. It had taken the jewellers Mappin & Webb an entire year to collect the perfectly matched stones. The necklace has nine large oblong aquamarines with an even bigger aquamarine pendant drop. The Queen had the drop set in a more decorative diamond cluster and it is now detachable. She was so delighted with the gift that in 1957 she had a tiara made to match the necklace. The tiara is surmounted by three vertically set aquamarines. Seeing that the Queen had so liked the original Coronation gift that she had a matching tiara made, the Government of Brazil decided to add to its gift, and in 1958 it presented Elizabeth II with a bracelet of oblong aquamarines set in a cluster of diamonds, and a square aquamarine and diamond brooch.
The George VI Victorian Suite was originally a wedding present by George VI to his daughter Elizabeth in 1947. The suite consists of a long necklace of oblong sapphires and diamonds and a pair of matching square sapphire earrings also bordered with diamonds. The suite was originally made in 1850. The stones exactly matched the colour of the robes of the Order of the Garter, although this may have been a coincidence on George's part. Elizabeth had the necklace shortened by removing the biggest sapphire in 1952, and later had a new pendant made using the removed stone. In 1963, a new sapphire and diamond tiara and bracelet were made to match the original pieces. The tiara is made out of a necklace that had belonged to Princess Louise of Belgium, daughter of Leopold II. In 1969, the Queen wore the complete parure to a charity concert.
For the coronation of their parents in 1937, it was decided that Elizabeth and Margaret should be given small versions of crowns to wear at the ceremony. Ornate coronets of gold lined with crimson and edged with ermine were designed by Garrard & Co. and brought to the royal couple for inspection. However, the king and queen decided they were inappropriately elaborate and too heavy for the young princesses. Queen Mary suggested the coronets be silver-gilt in a medieval style with no decorations. George VI agreed, and the coronets were designed with Maltese crosses and fleurs-de-lis. After the coronation, Mary wrote: "I sat between Maud and Lilibet (Elizabeth), and Margaret came next. They looked too sweet in their lace dresses and robes, especially when they put on their coronets". Both coronets are thought to be in the Queen's private collection.
Italiano Collezione personale di gioielli della regina Elisabetta II ▪