Queen Elizabeth’s Historic Jewellery
In celebration of the extraordinary life of the late Queen Elizabeth II, we’re looking back over the years at some of her unforgettable jewellery collections, some that she owned privately, and others as monarch during her 70-year reign.
These pieces, unlike the Crown Jewels, are not official regalia or insignia but have either been passed down from the Queen Mother’s collection or designed specifically for the Queen in more recent years. It is decided by the monarch in reign as to whether new jewellery is added to the official Royal Collection.
Queen Elizabeth II Tiaras
The Queen owned some 16 incredible tiaras. The first, the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara was given to her as a wedding present from her Grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1947. It became one of the most recognisable tiaras the Queen wore, appearing on portraits of the Queen on banknotes and coinage.
Another iconic tiara is King George IV’s Regal Circlet. This silver and gold-lined headpiece was originally made for King George IV, which he wore at his coronation in 1821. Queen Elizabeth first wore the sparkling diamond piece to her first State Opening of Parliament in 1952, and to every parliament opening since.
This tiara is instantly recognisable as the tiara worn in portraits of the Queen on stamps.
Queen Elizabeth II Earrings
Perhaps the most famous earrings worn by Queen Elizabeth were the Coronation Earrings. As the name suggests, these earrings were worn at her Coronation in 1953, but they were first made for Queen Victoria in 1858. They have been worn by queen regents for every coronation since.
Another famous pair of earrings worn frequently by the Queen were the Greville Chandelier Earrings. These Cartier earrings were made in 1929 by the famous french jewellery house, and have three large drops adorned with every modern cut of diamond.
The name Greville is owing to the fact they were purchased from Cartier by Margaret Greville, who left them to her friend the Queen Mother in 1942.
Queen Elizabeth II Necklaces
Perhaps the most beautiful necklace worn by the late Queen was another Greville piece this time designed and made by Boucheron in 1907; the Greville Ruby Floral Bandeau Necklace.
Another item bequest to the Queen Mother, it was later gifted to Queen Elizabeth in 1947 as a wedding present and worn frequently. It was also loaned to the Duchess of Cambridge in 2017 for a state banquet.
Queen Elizabeth II Brooches
The queen was known to often wear different brooches for different occasions and frequently lent them to family members for official state business. Perhaps the most interesting are the Brooches featuring cuts from the Cullinan Diamond, the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found. It was discovered in South Africa in 1906 and presented to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday.
Two of the stones cut from the diamond became the 94.4-carat Cullinan III, a clear pear-shaped stone, and a 63.6-carat cushion-shaped stone, Cullinan IV. They were made into brooches by Queen Mary, with Elizabeth II inheriting the brooch in 1953 from her grandmother.
Many of these pieces are available to see in the Royal Collection at various houses, and will no doubt be made more available in honour of the late Queen Elizabeth. With over a million pieces of art, jewellery, sculptures and furniture, the Royal Collection is the largest private collection of art in the world, and we have only touched the surface of all the incredible jewellery pieces in it.
Image sources — Jewels of Elizabeth II. (2022, September 23). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewels_of_Elizabeth_II