The Jewels Of The British Monarchs Part IV The Queen of Hearts
by Nandita Ray
Queen Elizabeth II one of the richest women in the world today, with an estimated fortune of 600 billion by Forbes magazine, her personal jewelry is worth 57 million $. This does not include the Crown Jewels.
The land where the sun never sets ultimately started losing its hold on the world. The glamour and the glitz associated with the British monarchy started shredding and the glow dimming. It had become aloof and secluded and left alone by the masses. Then Princess Diana came waltzing into the ivory tower and with her charming grace to become the Queen of Hearts, loved and adored by the world. Princess Di as she was popularly called was known for her easy to adopt hairstyle and her sense of dressing and accessorizing. Unlike her mother in law, the present queen, she was no ice maiden. She was young and vivacious. What an upheaval it created there! Her love for life and her attitude, her conduct was absolutely different from her Royal in laws. Her friends were pop stars and actors, her work involved the slums, the poor, the sick and stepping out from the pristine surrounding she stooped to conquer the world with her amazing grace, delicate beauty and sad blue eyes. It was difficult to slot her and like her, her jewelry collection ranged from her from sapphire ring and family heirlooms to pearls and costume jewelry! Diana is known for her simplistic style.
Before I talk about Diana, Queen Elizabeth II must be included because she remains one of the richest women in the world today, with an estimated fortune of 600 billion by Forbes magazine, her personal jewelry is worth 57 million $. This does not include the Crown Jewels.
Queen Elizabeth the II
The present monarch, who recently became the longest serving English monarch, has her jewels stored in an underground chamber which is as large as an ice rink. It is 40 feet underground. Most of her personal jewels are gifts. It is believed that she favors pearls though she has some of the world’s finest and rarest diamonds, rubies and sapphires. Amongst her famous collection worthy of mention are: –
- Timur Ruby: – the famous spinel weighing 325.50 carats.
- The Cambridge & Delhi Durbar Parure: – a set of necklace, earrings, bracelet and a small diadem made with ace emeralds.
- The Prince Albert Brooch: – Victoria presented her with this brooch which was given to Victoria by Prince Albert a day prior to their wedding.
- Queen Mary’s: – large ruby earrings
- Ruby and Diamond Bandeau: – which the queen wears often.
- Engagement ring: – designed by Prince Philip. It has a diamond taken from the tiara of his mother. It is a solitaire diamond weighing 3 carats. She wears it always. She is not a very fond of finger rings though.
- The Cambridge Lover’s knot Tiara: – with its prestigious history of having been worn by Duchess of Cambridge 1810 and the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg – Strelitz in 1890, Queen Mary in 1926, Queen Elizabeth II in 1955 and also worn by the late Princess Diana. It also has a matching bow shaped diamond brooch.
- Queen Mary’s “Rose of York” ruby and diamond bracelet: – it was a pendant which has been reset into a bracelet.
- Queen Mary’s Russian fringe necklace: – tiara mounted in gold and silver and set with diamonds. This tiara is made in such a way that when the clasp at the back is unhinged from the frame, the tiara can be turned into a necklace. It contains diamonds from the collection of King George III. This was made by Garrard and is based on a Russian prototype and is extremely popular with the Queen having worn it a number of times.
- The Grenville Chandelier earrings: – and the King George VI Festoon Necklace gifted by her parents on her wedding. The earrings with drop diamond have every known modern cut of diamonds at that time.
- The Goodman necklace: – consists of seven large emeralds and 3 smaller ones set on a platinum filigree base sprinkled with diamonds. This once belonged to the famous naturalist Goodman in 1890. After his death his daughters offered it to the Queen thinking it once belonged to the Queen Josephine of France.
- Mary Opphenheimer: – gave her a 6 carat blue and white diamond of flawless quality for promoting Anglo American monopoly. This enhanced the prestige of diamonds when they were running low.
- Queen Victoria’s: – bow shaped brooch which she generally wears on the left hand side
- Prince Philip: – gave her a brooch on their 5th wedding anniversary. It consists of interlocking alphabets E and P, the Prince’s naval badge set in diamonds and roses made with diamonds and rubies in memory of Queen’s father.
- The Nizam of Hyderbad: – presented her with a flat platinum necklace with a double drop pendant set with 13 diamonds. The pendant can be detached from the necklace and is made up with 38 brilliant cut open back brackets.
- Wedding gift: – given by her father consists of sapphire and diamond suite, ruby and diamond ring, sapphire and diamond earrings.
- The diamond watch: – presented to her by the oldest Swiss watch company, Vacheron & Constantin in 1947. It was a wedding gift. She gifted this to Diana.
- T. Williamson: – a wealthy diamond mine owner presented her with a rare 23 carat pink diamond, flawless and perfect shaped into a daffodil brooch.
- King Faisal of Saudi Arabia: – gifted her with a necklace resembling a lace made with diamonds. This was designed by none other than Harry Winston.
- The Flower Basket brooch: – presented to her by her mother after the birth of Prince Charles. It is made up of diamonds, rubies and sapphires. It carries the photographs of Queen Elizabeth and baby Charles. This is also her favorite.
- Pink Corals: – a simple string of corals which once belonged to her mother was given to her when she was a baby. This is a very sentimental piece and is priceless for her.
- The Rhodesian Flame Lily: – made with diamonds and set on platinum was gifted to her on her 21st birthday by the school children of Rhodesia.
- South African Government: – gave her a necklace set with 21 diamonds of the finest quality.
- The City of London: – presented with a diamond Lily brooch.
- The Austrian Wattle brooch: – with 150 diamonds, carrying many rare yellow and some blue and white diamonds. It is designed as a spray of wattles.
- The Brazilian Government: – presented her with a large necklace with square cut aquamarines and diamonds and a pair of earrings during her coronation year.
- The Cullinam diamonds: – she possesses the pear shaped Cullinam diamond set as a brooch. This was one of the pieces that were cut from the original diamond weighing 1.25 pounds.
- The Cullinam II & IV diamonds: – weighing 94 and 63 carats which she fondly calls “Granny chips” is also a part of her collection.
This is not the full and complete list of her Majesty’s personal jewelry collection. But the famous Leslie Field’s the American author notes that she has: –
- 34 pair of earrings
- 98 brooches
- 46 necklaces
- 37 bracelets
- 5 pendants
- 14 watches
- 15 rings
She ranks 23 among the 100 richest people in the world.
The younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II was known for her spirit and beauty. She too possessed some priceless pieces given to her by her mother Elizabeth I and her grandmother Queen Mary. After her demise they were auctioned off to pay for her children’s inheritance tax. Her ex husband Lord Snowdown was displeased. The sale produced unexpected results. They got more than what they had expected. There were 192 pieces in all that were auctioned.
- Poltimore Tiara: – is the most famous of all her jewels. She wore it on her wedding to Lord Snowdown in 1960. It is styled into leaves and flowers all made of diamonds. It was made by Garrard and was given to her by her grandmother Queen Mary. It is set in silver and gold and has clusters of diamonds with diamond set scroll motifs and each circled by cut diamonds. It can be converted into a circlet, 11 brooches and a necklace. This piece was sold to an Asian collector for 1.7 million $ by Christies.
- Pearl and diamond necklace: – gifted to her by her grand mother Queen Mary on her 18th birthday in 1948.
- The Antique Riviere Necklace: – again given by Queen Mary. A single row of 34 graduated diamonds which a cushion shaped.
- Five Rows of pearl necklace: – with a diamond clasp mounted in platinum made in 1928 and is 30.0 cms long.
- The Famous M shaped brooch: – this is a diamond monogram brooch set beneath a crown.
- A Ruby and cultured pearl necklace: – made in 1930 which was worn by her when she was three years old.
- A Rose of York Brooch: -made by Cartier in 1955.
- A diamond and ruby ring: – given by her mother Elizabeth I with a note “now you have lost a son you must have something new’. This was given when her son Linley married.
- A Gilt hedgehog Brooch: – which was valued at 50 pounds was actually sold for 5, 760 $ in the auction by Christies.
- A Jabot Pin: – designed as a butterfly with cultured pearl, sold for 6,000 $ when it was valued at 60 pounds.
- A marquise: – cut diamond ring.
- Two Art Deco Bracelets: – one made with a solitaire marquise cut diamond surrounded with rubies and the other is a half hoop with three rubies. Also an art deco brooch made with sapphire and diamonds. A hand written note says ‘For darling Margaret on her confirmation day from her loving granny Mary Rose’.
- A grey cultured pearl Bermuda Cedar Brooch: – bought in 1990 when she visited the “jungle island of Cedar’. Made in gold shaped as a sprig of Bermuda Cedar and is studded with cultured pearls as berries”.
- A pair of cultured pearl and diamond earrings: – made by the top notch Canadian jewelers Birks. Each pearl is set above a trefoil of brilliant cut diamonds. Also accompanying it was a brooch shaped like a maple leaf. These two were presented by the city of Montreal.
Not all the jewels that were auctioned by Christies are listed here. This is just a fragment.
Her father was Lord Spencer and his ancestry can be traced back to Marie Antoinette of France. Princess Diana was married to Prince Charles and for her wedding she wore the Spencer Tiara made in 1767 or 1830. It is difficult to pin point the exact date as it was reset. It is designed with tulips and long stemmed flowers and stars molded in gold and silver. She loved it and worn it often.
- From Queen Mary’s: – collection she got the emerald and diamond choker. She wore this as a head band. Prince Charles bought her a matching art deco style emerald and diamond bracelet to match this choker. She also wore the Queen Mary’s famous “Cambridge Lover’s Knot” Tiara which was designed by the Queen in May 1914. In 1935 the queen had the top row of pearls spikes removed. This was loaned to Princess Diana by the present Queen for state functions. It had a pair of matching pearl drop earrings which she wore with the tiara.
- From her mother Frances: – she got a pair of stunning diamond earrings which she wore for the wedding in the chapel on 29th July 1981.
- The Queen mother: – gave her a brooch made out of sapphire and surrounded by diamonds. Diana got it remodeled and had it set on her 6 strand pearl choker. She wore it frequently and this blue sapphire matching her blue eyes became her signature style.
- Prince Charles: -The famous blue sapphire engagement ring was surrounded by 18 brilliant cut diamonds. She gifted this to her son William. This was made by Garrard Jewelers. Sapphire was her favorite gemstone. Prince Charles gave her numerous gifts like the heart shaped necklace of gold and pearls, a heart shaped gold bracelet, a green diamond set of necklace, earrings and bracelet set in white gold. Charles gave her numerous bracelets like the charm bracelet, one for each year of their marriage. In 1982- 84 he presented her with the two alphabets W and H in gold to celebrate the birth of their sons, Prince William and Harry. Ballet shoes because she loved ballet, a tennis racquet because she loved the game, polo cap because he loves polo, St. Paul’s cathedral, the church where they were married, a bear because she loved cuddy teddies, an apple for her love for Manhattan city and a pig a private joke. She never wore the bracelet! She wore a silver bracelet with the word ‘Princess’.
- The Swan Lake: – jewelry set which she wore to the Royal gala performance was made by Garrard in 1997. Princess Diana had it designed and made with South Sea Pearls with matching pearl and diamond earrings. It was sold after her death for 326,500 pounds. One of her favorites was a three row pearl choker with a turquoise flower clasp.
- Costume Jewelry: – her favorite fashion accessories were mainly costume jewelry fashioned and sold by Butler and Wilson in London. The large snake brooch which she wore, the pair of heart shaped earrings with starburst clips was bought from him. Simon Wilson says, “She used costume jewelry to customize her clothes and to add wit and individuality to her wardrobe”.
Most of her jewelry was inherited from the Spencer’s and the Royal family. They were mostly family heirlooms. She got some gifts from head of states like the watch from the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The National Associations of Goldsmiths presented her with a pretty gold and white necklace with sapphire flowers. It also had the Prince of Wales feathers in the center. She donated this sapphire and gold necklace to the Kazanjian’s Jewels for Charity.
It can be noted easily that with minimal jewelry and simple dress style Diana became the most popular and sought after celebrity who became the “Queen of Hearts” for millions of people around the world.
- Book The Jewels of Queen Elizabeth II by Leslie Field.
- Book “Famous Jewelry Collectors” by Stephano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes.
- Christie’s website