Saturday, June 30, 2012

Prince Albert Gives Queen Victoria Three Tiaras

Queen Victoria's Diamond and Emerald Tiara (reproduction)
Photo Source: Naergi's Costuming Site

Prince Albert was a man of many talents, not the least of which was his keen eye for jewelry design. His greatest designs were reserved for his bride, Queen Victoria, and each of his gifts were flush with symbolism, beauty, and affection. Some of the most exquisite of these gifts were three tiaras he designed and commissioned in the early 1800s.

The first of these dainty crows is called Queen Victoria's Diamond and Emerald Tiara. Fashioned by goldmsith Joseph Kitching of Collingwood &amp Son in 1845, this tiara reigns as a supreme example of the neo-Gothic (Gothic revival) style of the 19th century. This circlet features quatrefoil patterns from which emerge alternating spikes. The longer spikes are tipped with large cabochon emeralds, while the short ones are crowned with a single kite-shaped emerald topped with a round white diamond.

The base of the diadem consists of two parallel bands studded with hundreds of brilliant-cut diamonds. Between the two bands, cushion-cut emeralds alternate with vertical bars mounted with two round brilliant diamonds. As early as 2002, experts surmise that this beautiful crown was sold and possibly dismantled. No one with a camera has seen it since it was loaned for display during a Wartski ehxibition in 1997. The picture featured above is a reproduction.

Queen Victoria's Sapphire & Diamond Tiara
Photo Source: Marie Poutine's Jewels & Royals Blog

The second of these tiaras, also in the neo-Gothic style, is known as Queen Victoria's Sapphire and Diamond Tiara. This tiara is featured in an 1842 portrait of Her Majesty by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, as well as in a portrait by Richard Graves from 1874.

This elegant diadem features an ample base of silver and gold set with large cushion- and kite-cut sapphires, interspersed with intricate metalwork that is studded with white diamonds. Extending from the base are sweeping spikes alternately tipped with a single diamond or a trio of diamonds in the neo-Gothic trefoil pattern.

Most recently, this beautiful tiara emerged from the private collection of the Earl and Countess of Harewood in order to make an appearance at a charity event hosted in January of 2012 by Geoffrey Munn of Antiques Roadshow.

A digital rendering of Queen Victoria's Strawberry Leaf Tiara
Photo Source: The Royal Watcher

The third of these tiaras, called Queen Victoria's Strawberry Leaf Tiara, once shimmered with the red light of rubies set in the base, the band, and the spikes. However, in 1933, Cartier was commissioned by Lady Irene Denison, the wife of Victoria's great-grandson, the Marquess of Carisbrooke, to remove the rubies and replace them with diamonds.

In its present state, the crown is paved solely with diamonds set in exquisite strawberry leaf patterns along the base and upon the ornate spikes of the crown. Two parallel bands of diamonds, joined by single-set round brilliants, encircle the entire crown above the strawberry leaf base.

Resting upon this central banding are spikes topped with clusters of diamonds alternating with large kite-shaped diamonds. Like the emerald and diamond tiara, the whereabouts of the strawberry leaf tiara are currently unknown.


1. "Strawberry Leaf Tiara: Princess Beatrice." Royal Magazin. Accessed June 24, 2012.
2. Silver Collection. "Hallmarks of English Silver Maker's Mark Identification." Accessed June 24, 2012.
3. Pam on Fifth Blog. "A Gothic-Revival-Inspired Tiara." January 22, 2012. Accessed June 24, 2012.
4. A Fashionable Frolick Blog. "The Tiaras of Queen Victoria." April 26, 2011. Accessed June 24, 2012.
5. Jewel Info 4 U. "The Jewels of the British Monarchs Part 2 - Victorian Era." Accessed June 24, 2012.
6. Gere, Charlotte. American & European Jewelry, 1830-1914. Crown Publishers, 1975.
7. Heathman. "Queen Victoria's Tiara Turns Up in a Highgate Home." January 25, 2012. Accessed June 24, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Chemical Properties of Emeralds

Emerald Brooch
Photo Source: Porcelains and Peacocks Blog

Chromium infiltration gives emeralds, a member of the beryl family, their distinctive bright green color. These green beauties grow under tumultuous conditions in hydrothermic veins within metamorphic formations, in mica schists, or in limestone deposits. Just like the ruby, the elements required for emeralds to form (beryllium, chromium, and vanadium) do not typically coexist upon the earth. It takes violent upheavals and roiling tectonic activity to bring these integral components together.

The sheer violence surrounding the creation of emerald crystals make it rare for them to form without fissures and cracks (inclusions). In fact, even some of the most valuable emeralds can be filled with a microscopic network of tiny cuts infused with air, mica, iron pyrite, or water, often resulting in a verdant milky appearance nicknamed jardin ('garden').

It was these delicate gardens within the precious gemstones that inspired jewelers to develop the very popular emerald cut, a rectangular step cut specifically tailored to preserve the structural integrity of delicate emeralds.

Despite these flaws and their fragile structure, their miraculous and savage origins, coupled with their brilliant color and hardness, have endowed emeralds with an innate value that often renders them more valuable than diamonds of similar size and weight.


1. Contreras, Ashley. "Emeralds." Cochise College: Geology Home Page. Accessed June 22, 2012.
2. Clark, Don. "Gem Formation." International Gem Society. Accessed June 22, 2012.
3. Snazzdragon: A-Z of Crystals. "Emerald." Accessed June 22, 2012.
4. International Colored Gemstone Association. "Emerald." Accessed June 22, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Healing Powers of St. Edward's Sapphire

Medieval Talismans and Cramp Rings
Photo Source: Chest of Books

Once set in a ring belonging to Edward the Confessor (King of England, 1043-1066), St. Edward's Sapphire was known to cure scrofula, a form of tuberculosis that manifests in the neck. King Edward, who was known as a gentle Christian man of humility and prayer, customarily touched and healed many who were ill with scrofula. So effective were his healing services, that the French monarchs soon followed suit. Eventually, it came to be known that touching even the ring of a Royal family member would heal a person.

Even after he died, King Edward's sapphire ring was buried with him in 1066. However, after his body's last exhumation in 1163, it appears that King Henry II removed the ring and claimed it for the Crown. The ring continued to hold the power to heal. Subsequently, many other rings, known as cramprings, were prayed over by successive Royals and sent throughout the land for the healing of scrofula and other such wasting diseases.

As one historian, George Younghusband, relates, "It was held in the old days to have the magic powers of curing the cramp, and no doubt did so, assisted by implicit faith and when applied by the King himself. Faith has performed more wonderful miracles."

Later, this endowment from God to the reigning monarch would be called the Royal Touch, and the blessing of cramprings as well as Royal healing services were routine customs in England until 1688, and in France until 1825.

A change in religious doctrine led by Calvinists, who believed that healing and other spiritual gifts were reserved only for the apostles of the early church, led to the cessation of healing services in England after the reign of Queen Anne.


1. Younghusband, George John and Cyril Davenport. The Crown Jewels of England. London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1919.
2. Greater Emmitsburg Area Historical Society. Hillman's Hyperlinked and Searchable [Robert] Chambers' Book of Days. Entry: March 25th. Accessed June 22, 2012.
3. Trivia Library. "Famous Exhumations English King Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 22, 2012.
4. BBC Religions. "Saint Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 22, 2012.
5. English Historical Review, The. A sample from "The King's Evil." London: The Longman Group Limited, 1980. Accessed June 22, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wear Your Antique Jewelry Without Wearing it Out

Queen Elizabeth II,
Wearing antique brooch, heirloom pearls, and vintage earrings
Photo Source: Financial News Stories

How many of your beautiful pieces of heirloom jewelry lie in state in the far recesses of your jewelry box? Are your antique beauties locked away in the mausoleum you call your wall safe?

Even the Queen of England takes her crown out of the Tower of London sometimes. Jewelry is wearable art. It serves a function and form that no other art form can boast. Yet, so many of the most beautiful pieces are kept locked away for fear of damaging or losing them.

I hope to empower you to wear your vintage or antique jewelry to black-tie events or even while running your errands. Before you follow my advice, though, be sure to take precautions to prevent loss or theft while they are out of their safe cases. Also, please note that each piece of antique jewelry is unique and has undergone possible unknown stresses. It might be a sound decision to take your pieces to a jeweler to ensure that they have wearable life left in them.

Once you get clearance from your jeweler, then following these few tips will allow you to enjoy your treasure on those special occasions that warrant them. In fact, this gentle nudge may be all you need to start wearing your grandmother’s favorite pin close to your heart with every outfit. She would want you to wear it, so long as you don’t wear it out.

  1. Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before putting on your heirloom jewelry. Hairspray, perfumes, lotions, soaps, oils, and even moisture can harm antique jewels, especially pearls and opals.
  2. Consider carrying your antique or vintage rings, necklaces, brooches, and earrings to and from your event in a secured velvet carrying case. This will ensure that you do not lose an earring or drop a necklace with a faulty clasp. Choose a case that allows you to store each piece separately to guard against scratching or chipping.
  3. If you wish to live decadently and wear your heirloom jewelry as everyday adornment, be sure to put it safely away before gardening, doing housework, swimming in your chlorinated pool, or engaging in sports activities. Chemicals and sweat can harm your jewels. Also, these activities can often result in loss of a ring, bracelet, or even a gemstone.
  4. As soon as you take your antique or vintage jewelry off, store it in a clean, dry place. Depending on its value, you may opt to store it in a locked safe or in a safe deposit box in between uses.
  5. Be sure that wherever you choose to safeguard it, you choose velvet-lined boxes with individual spaces or hooks to keep each piece separate from the others. This will prevent scarring, scratching, chipping, and tangling. Also, be sure you photograph and insure any pieces worth over a few hundred dollars.


Hints and Things. "Useful Tips for Cleaning Antique Jewellery." Accessed June 13, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Monday, June 25, 2012

Victorian Mourning Jewelry

Victorian Mourning Jewelry
Photo Source: Coco Loves Vintage Blog

In 1861, following Prince Albert’s death, jewelry inspired by the hopeful notions of the Romantic Era gave way to pragmatic authoritarian rules and regulations about everything, including jewelry.

With the heavier social customs came heavier jewelry, as well as the institution of day and night jewelry. It was frowned upon to be seen during the day with glittery, ostentatious jewelry. The once frilly and colorful designs of the early Victorian years were replaced with subtler, weighty designs made from onyx, black glass, and jet (a form of fossilized driftwood).

Colored stones were strictly taboo, so colorless diamonds, found in abundance in Africa in 1867, fast became the stone of choice for evening wear. Though a little more flash was tolerated for night wear, designers began to draw their inspiration from Gothic, Etruscan, and ancient Italian architecture. The result: Darker, hefty pieces, such as the mourning brooch shown below.

Victorian Mourning Brooch
Photo Source: Vintage Jewellery Pictures

During the ten years following Albert's death, Victoria remained in seclusion, traveling privately between Balmoral and Windsor Castle. She entered public view only a handful of times during those years; first for the unveiling of a statue of Albert in 1863, second for a public ride through the streets of London in 1864, and finally, reluctantly, for the Opening of Parliament in 1866. She became fixated on death. It was a bleak time for fashion, with England’s fashion trendsetter remaining in deep mourning for nearly a decade.

Emulating Queen Victoria’s obsession with death, English society turned toward what Michael Wheeler calls the "Victorian Death Cult." The majority of England became sickly fascinated with death and mourning, and funeral rites became sentimental and showy.

This fascination with death and the macabre inspired a new fashion which we now call antique jewelry. Prior to Albert’s death, the code dictated six months of deep mourning and another six months of half morning. Upon the Prince’s death, Queen Victoria restricted her household to full mourning for one year and half mourning for one year. Deep mourning customs dictated scant jewelry and black and grey dresses made from crepe.

To the relief of many, on March 10, 1863, Queen Victoria declared an end to the mourning period for England, making the wedding of her son Prince Bertie to the Princess Alexandra the most colorful spectacle seen on English soil for two years. Despite the Queen's release of the public, she remained heavily in mourning, purveying the ceremony from a private box shrouded in what Helen Rappaport terms her “widows weeds.” She also refused to lift the ban of half-mourning from the female members of the Household. Her daughters wore dresses of mauve, lilac, and grey to the wedding.

If Princess Alexandra hadn’t come as “a breath of fresh air to blow away the mid-century cobwebs,” the jewelry industry may have collapsed. {8} Thankfully, the jubilant wedding gave the jewelry industry permission to look to the new Princess for inspiration. Although white diamonds and pearls continued to dominate the jewelry scene into the early 1900s, designers began to introduce a little more romance and whimsy into their designs over the following decades.


1. Essortment. "Victorian Mourning Customs." Accessed June 13, 2012.
2. Spark Notes. "Queen Victoria: The Years of Mourning." Accessed June 13, 2012.
3. Smith, S. E. "What was Victorian Mourning Like?" wiseGeek. Accessed June 13, 2012.
4. Britton, Natalya. "Victorian Death Worship and Literature." Literary Culture @ Suite101. June 29, 2012. Accessed June 13, 2012.
5. Burnett, Ann. "Perkin's Purple." Writer and Tutor, Ann Burnett. Accessed June 13, 2012.
6. Nadelhoffer, Hans. Cartier. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2007. 7. Rappaport, Helen. Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003. 8. Tisdall, E. E. P. Alexandra: Edward VII’s Unpredictable Queen. New York: J. Day Co., 1954.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Peril of St. Edward's Crown

Blood and his cronies attemp to steal the Crown Jewels in 1671.
Illustration by Peter Jackson
Photo Source: Look and Learn

Rumor has it that King Charles II hired Colonel Thomas Blood to swipe St. Edward's Crown, the Sceptre, and the Orb from Martin Tower in 1671. Having fallen on hard times, King Charles II indeed conceived of a way to augment the royal coffers, to open the Jewel House to public viewing for a small price. I don't think he actually hired the thief, even though he did pardon the criminal.

It appears that King Charles II was motivated more by amusement (or possibly threat of a different sort) than by perdition when he pardoned Colonel Blood of his crimes. It appears that Colonel Blood carefully planned and executed his failed attempt to steal the jewels with the help of a woman and three of his friends, Robert Parrot, Tom Hunt, and Richard Hallowell (Holloway).

In early April of 1671, Talbot Edwards and his wife invited a man calling himself Parson Blood and his ailing wife into their home in the Tower of London. As the Deputy Keeper's wife and daughter ministered to the parson's wife, the parson appraised his surroundings, taking note of anything that could be to his advantage in swiping the jewels.

After several return visits in disguise as the gentle parson, Blood gained Edwards' confidence to the point that he agreed to a betrothal meeting for his daughter with Blood's "nephew." For this most auspicious meeting, Blood invited his associates and Edwards invited his son. Waiting in the sitting room, Blood suggested that while they awaited the arrival of the women, he and his friends might like a tour of the Jewel House. Eager to please, the 77-year-old Deputy Keeper obliged, only to wind up hooded, gagged, and bound on the floor.

While Hunt and Parrot beat the clamoring Edwards, Blood flattened the Crown and stuffed it in his cassock and then dropped the Orb down his breeches. Edwards, now incapacitated on the floor, was unable to stop the other two men from their attempt to saw the Sceptre in two for easy concealment. At the sound of Edwards' son coming to the rescue, the two dropped the Sceptre to the floor, and the men fled the scene.

Blood took a shot at the yeomen at the Byward Tower, who dropped to the ground as if hit and allowed them to escape. They ran along the river, where Sentries alerted passersby near enough to take them down. Upon capture, Blood refused to speak to anyone but King Charles II, who he knew to be a man of great curiosity who appreciated intrigue. After a man-to-man chat, King Charles II surprised everyone by granting a pardon to Blood on all counts of treason, murder, and felonious acts.

St. Edward's Crown, which had lost a pearl, a large diamond, and several smaller diamonds, was repaired and restored to the Tower, as were the Orb and the Scepter. Talbot Edwards remained in service to the King as Deputy Keeper for another three years, though he was not well rewarded for his courageous efforts to stop Blood. He died three years later at age 80, possibly from ill care of the wounds sustained during the theft.


1. Castles. "Crown Jewels." Accessed June 22, 2012.
2. Castles. "Martin Tower." Accessed June 22, 2012.
3. De Ros, William Lennox. Digital edition of Memorials of the Tower of London. London: John Murray, 1866.
4. Photographers Resource. "Tower of London." Accessed June 22, 2012.
5. Smith, George. Edited by Leslie Stephen & Sidney Lee. The Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 2. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1908.
6. Dave. "How to Steal Scepter and Orb: Thank Offerings to the Curious." Madame Pickwick Art Blog. Posted September 7, 2010. Accessed June 22, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Evolution of St. Edward's Crown

St. Edward's Crown
Photo Source: Cover Your Hair Blog

Originally set as a gold circlet inset with imitation pearls and paste (cut glass), St. Edward’s Crown has seen multiple transformations in its many years. It was King Egbert (death date 839) who first added ray points to the simple circlet in order to mimic the styles of the eastern emperors of his day. The addition of pearl tips on the rays was credited to King Edward the Confessor (death date 1066).

Though some historians write that William of Normandy (death date 1087) wore a simple circle flowery in lieu of St. Edward’s Crown, one historian, Francis Sandford, noted in his book A Genealogical History of the Kings and Queens of England (1066) that William’s seal featured him wearing the crown with the arches and the cross pattee.

William Rufus (death date 1100), son of William of Normandy, was reported to have worn St. Edward's Crown, having further enriched it with points. Later, Henry I (death date 1135), added the fleur-di-lis, and wore it as it is seen on his great seal and coin.

'Maude', really Empress Matilda of England (death date 1167), daughter of King Henry I, requested that her crown have points with leaves/flowers extending much higher than the points. During the two hundred years following her reign, fleur-di-lis were added once again in varying states, depending upon the “whim” of the sovereign of the day.

King Edward III (death date 1377) is credited with the addition of the cross pattee interspersed among the fleurs-di-lis, and his son Edward IV (death date 1483), is shown sitting with a crown closed by arches with a rim of fleurs-di-lis, alternating with crosses pattee, which rise from a circlet with four arching bars.

It appears that Edward V (death date circa 1483) and Richard III (death date 1485) wore the crown in similar style. For Henry VII (death date 1509) and Henry VIII (death date 1547), the arches were embellished with pearls and enriched with precious stones and jewels, which was the prevailing fashion of the crown until the reign of William IV (death date 1837). For his coronation in 1830, the arches were raised to a higher point by his order, transforming it into the crown we know today as St. Edward’s Crown.


1. Official Website of The British Monarchy, The. "The Crown Jewels." Accessed May 28, 2012.
2. Rush, Kim. "St. Edward's Crown."UK/Irish History @ Suite101. Posted July 17, 2009. Accessed May 28, 2012.>
3. Jewelry Gems About. "British Crown Jewels." Accessed May 28, 2012.
4. Robson, Thomas. The British Herald; or, Cabinet of armorial bearings of the Nobility. Sunderland: Turner & Marwood, 1830.

5. Ian Marr Rare Books. "Entry #81, Sandford (Francis)." Accessed June 13, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Charles Lewis Tiffany

Charles Lewis Tiffany (r); Louis Comfort Tiffany (l)
Photo Source: San Francisco Sentinel

Even today, Tiffany is a household name. The work of Louis Comfort Tiffany has seen peaks and valleys throughout the last hundred years or more. A brilliant artisan, a shrewd businessman, a man of legacy, Louis Comfort Tiffany stands apart, but not alone. Tiffany’s heritage includes men and women who paved the way for his grand success, who shaped him and shaped his destiny, and who literally influenced generations of luxury lines after him.

Tiffany’s heritage started with his father, Charles Lewis Tiffany, who worked with partner John B. Young to found Tiffany and Young, a modest stationery and fancy goods store, in 1837. Known as the King of Diamonds, Charles Tiffany dared to profit from the loss of the European Royals. He and John Young bought diamonds in bulk from heads of state who lost their thrones in the tumultuous days of the late 1840s. They promptly turned around and sold these diamonds to the new breed of nobles: American businessmen.

These elite ties, however, were not the backbone of Charles Tiffany’s business strategy. In fact, it was his business acumen that secured Tiffany as a household name, and not just a name for the elite.

Charles Tiffany, a true democratic American, marketed his jewelry and what would later become the Tiffany vintage engagement rings not only to the very wealthy, but also to the average working classes. He made deals with the “kings” of society as well as with the “kings” of the sea, the men along the docks. His ingenious networking skills literally afforded him a place at any table.

Louis Comfort Tiffany did not inherit a mere shop front with an inventory. He inherited a way of life, a life of favor. And he did not squander it. In fact, he built on the foundation left to him by his father and established an empire that remains strong and stalwart even today.


1. Couldrey, Vivienne. The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Secaucus, New Jersey: Wellfleet Press: 1989, 8-27.
2. Masters Lodge, The. "Louis Comfort Tiffany." Accessed June 12, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

St. Edward's Sapphire

St. Edward's Sapphire
Photo Source: News Line

The last of the famous stones set in the Imperial State Crown, St. Edward's Sapphire is another of England's treasures that somehow escaped the Cromwell destruction of 1649. This rose-cut blue sapphire crowns the uppermost cross pattee (Maltese cross) in the State Crown. According to legend, Edward the Confessor, King of England from 1043 to 1066 AD, wore the sapphire as a ring until he gave it to a beggar along the road in Essex during the dedication of a church called Havering.

The king, enthralled with the festivities surrounding the new church's dedication ceremonies, stopped off to join in the celebration. During the procession, a "fair old man" requested alms of the king, who slid the only thing of value he carried off of his finger and gladly bestowed the sapphire ring to the old man, who thanked him and walked away.

Some years later, two pilgrims from England lost their way on a tour of the holy land. In great despair over being at the mercy of the wild animals of the night, they nearly gave up hope of rescue when at once they spotted coming toward them a company of men dressed in white, carrying two lights.

From behind them emerged a wizened man. They drew near to the company of men, intending to follow them, and as they approached the old man asked them where they were from and where they were heading.

Upon hearing the news that they were lost pilgrims from England, the old man comforted them and led them into a city where they were invited to dine with a group of men celebrating with a feast. After a peaceful night's rest, the kind old man led them back to the road that would take them home.

Just before taking his leave, he stretched out his hand and gave them the king's sapphire ring, saying "I am John the Evangelist, and say ye unto Edward your king that I greet him right well, by the token that he gave to me this ring with his own hands at the hallowing of my church, which ring ye shall deliver to him again. And say ye to him that he dispose his goods, for within six months he shall be in the joy of heaven with me, where he shall have his reward for his chastity and for his good living. And dread ye not, for ye shall speed right well in your journey, and ye shall come home in short time safe and sound."

Upon their sure and swift return to England, the pilgrims delivered the message and the ring to the King, reporting all that St. John the Evangelist had told them. Six months later, on January 5, 1066, King Edward the Confessor died of natural causes and was buried in the chapel he established, Westminster Abbey.


1. Younghusband, George John and Cyril Davenport. The crown jewels of England.Cassell and Company, Ltd: London, 1919.
2. Catholic Forum. "The Golden Legend: The Life of Saint Edward the Confessor." Accessed June 19, 2012.
3. BBC Religions. "Saint Edward the Confessor." Last modified July 31, 2009.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Stuart Sapphire

Stuart Sapphire
Photo Source: Talking Blue Blog

Opposite the Cullinan II diamond, on the back of the Imperial State Crown, the Stuart Sapphire rests beneath a cross pattee. This beautiful 1.5- by 1-inch brilliant blue oval gemstone hails from the famed Stuart Monarchy of England and Scotland. The Stuarts reigned uncontested, under James I, from 1603 to 1649, under Charles I.

James I was the Protestant of Protestants. His conviction that he was above the law, answerable to God alone, led him to make some radical decisions that had resounding effects that ripple into today. Under his rule, Puritan reformers were dismissed and Catholics were forbidden from attending Mass. He also introduced Protestants to Northern Ireland. He did attempt to maintain peace between England and the other European countries, but he was not favored by Parliament and his decisions left the country in debt at his death.

He was succeeded by his son, Charles I, who swiftly persuaded Parliament to grant him finances to go to war with Spain and France. By 1629, King Charles I had completely lost favor with the ruling class. Believing, as his father did, that he was above the law, he dismissed Parliament and ruled England as a pure monarchy until he was forced to recall Parliament in 1639. Ten years later, after inciting a Civil War in England, his rule was overthrown and he was executed.

A Stuart ring featuring Charles II's Royal Cipher
Photo Credit: The Hairpin

A Narrow Escape
It is here where the Stuart Sapphire’s unique story unfolds. As a result of this Civil War and the execution of the reigning monarch, a new republic rose in an attempt to overthrow the monarchy. With enough civil unrest, Oliver Cromwell rose to defend the new republic. Desperately in need of money, he dispatched with nearly the entire crown treasury. He sold most of the gemstones and melted all the gold so he could sell it to the highest bidder. However, somehow the Stuart Sapphire narrowly escaped this assault on England’s prized possessions. Rumor has it that Charles II secreted it away when he was exiled to France.

After Oliver Cromwell’s death in 1648, two years of anarchy presided over the British Isles until Parliament reestablished its rule. Their first order of business was to invite Charles II to return from his exile in France to reign as King. The Stuarts were back on the throne, and Charles II had the Stuart Sapphire mounted into his crown.

In 1685, Charles II’s death left the throne open for his brother, James II. It is unclear exactly what James II did with the sapphire, but it was removed from the crown and stashed somewhere for a few years.

Despite his conversion to Roman Catholocism, James II somehow managed to hold the Crown for three years before his position was finally recalled by Parliament. He departed for France in 1688 with the Stuart Sapphire in tow, quite possibly hidden in one of his pockets.

A Succession of Heirs
Upon his death in 1701, the gem passed to his son, Charles Edward, who in turn gave it to his son, Henry Benedict Stuart, the Cardinal of York. The Stuart's hapless reign ended with the death of Queen Anne in 1714, after which the Hanovers took the throne of England with the ascension of George I.

For nearly 100 years, the sapphire remained in France, until the Cardinal of York died in 1807. Upon his death, the Prince of Wales, George IV, dispatched Angioli Bonelli to collect from France any remaining records relating to the Stuart household.

The story goes that during his travels, Mr. Bonelli encountered a Venetian merchant claiming that a large blue sapphire in his possession had once belonged to the Stuart Crown. Bonelli purchased the sapphire (believed to be the Stuart Sapphire) and brought it back to England, along with other Stuart treasures, on behalf of the Cardinal’s only living and rightful heir, King George III. {4}

Marchioness Elizabeth Conyngham, circa 1800
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

A Return to the Crown
Three years later, in 1810, George III was declared unfit to rule as King. His son, George IV, assumed the position of Crown Regent, and with the title came the treasure. C. Rachel Jones writes that in 1814, George IV gave the Stuart Sapphire to his daughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales. {6}

< She goes on to relate that upon the unfortunate death of the Princess of Wales, her father rescinded the gift of the Stuart Sapphire from his son-in-law, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, and gifted it to one of his mistresses, the Marchioness of Conyngham, “on whose beautiful and naughty head it sparkled at the ball at Devonshire House in 1821.” {6}

Though her historical account of the life of Princess Charlotte is thorough and entertaining, Ms. Jones’ book may not serve as an entirely credible account. However, according to her, the gemstone remained in the Countesses’ possession until her death in 1861, at which time it was returned to the Crown.

In 1837, the Stuart Sapphire was mounted in the front of the band of the Imperial State Crown below the Black Prince’s Ruby, for Queen Victoria’s coronation. However, when the Imperial Crown was remade in 1937, the Cullinan II displaced the Sapphire to its current position directly opposite the Cullinan II on the backside of the crown.


1. Famous Diamonds. "The Stuart Sapphire." Accessed June 11, 2012.
2. Internet Stones. "Stuart Sapphire." Accessed June 11, 2012.
3. History on the Net. "The Stuart Monarchs-1603-1714." Accessed June 11, 2012.
4. Royal Collection, The. "The Imperial State Crown." Accessed June 11, 2012.
5. Younghusband, George John. The Jewel House. London: Herbert Jenkins Limited, 1921.
6. Jones, C. Rachel. The Princess Charlotte of Wales. London: Wyman & Sons, 1885.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Cullinan II Diamond

Cullinan II Diamond
Photo Source: The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor

Just beneath the Black Prince’s Ruby, nestled in the band of the Imperial State Crown, rests the Cullinan II, the fourth-largest polished diamond in the world. Called the Lesser (Second) Star of Africa (after its larger sister diamond which is affixed as the crowning jewel of the British Royal Scepter), the Cullinan II was cut from the largest diamond in the world, which was found in Africa in 1905.

The original stone was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine in which it was found. It weighed in at 3,025 carats and was believed to be a fragment of an even larger stone that has yet to be found.

The Cullinan II was one of nine faceted diamonds that were cut by Asschers of Amsterdam from the mammoth gemstone at the bequest of Edward VII, who received the massive diamond as a birthday gift from the Transvaal Government in 1907. The diamond served as a gift of truce between South Africa and Great Britain after the Boers War.

Cut in cushion fashion, the Cullinan II was set into the Imperial State Crown in 1937, when the crown was remade for George VI. It is designed with two loops so it can be worn as a brooch, as well. Though Queen Elizabeth II prefers the Cullinan III and IV brooch, it is reported that prior queens wore the larger Cullinan I and II in brooch form. There are photos of Queen Mary wearing this rather large brooch, and rumor has it that Queen Alexandra also wore this large brooch in conjunction with the Koh-i-Noor diamond.


1. Jamison, Jamie. "The Exceptionally Noteworthy Gemstones of the British Regalia." GO 340 Project. Accessed June 11, 2012.
2. Faded Star of Africa, The. "The Diamond." Accessed June 11, 2012.
3. Cristina. "The Cullinan II." The Jewelry Blog. October 3. Accessed June 11, 2012.
4. Royal Collection, The. "The Imperial State Crown." Accessed June 11, 2012.
5. Royal Magazin. "Die kleineren Cullinan Broschen." Accessed June 11, 2012.
6. Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor Blog, The. "The Cullinans, Part 1: The Big Stars of Africa." Posted April 22, 2012. Accessed June 11, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Black Prince’s Ruby

Black Prince's Ruby
Photo Source: Intec2000

Though definitely not the most beautiful of gems, the Black Prince’s Ruby has a history which has bestowed upon it incalculable value and prominence. So much so, that it has been included as a primary feature of the Imperial State Crown of Britain. Although it’s value is likely greater than most known rubies, the Black Prince’s Ruby is not actually a ruby. Reported to have been mined from the balas ruby mines near Afghanistan, this blood-red gemstone is actually a spinel (magnesium aluminum oxide).

Up until the 18th century, spinels and rubies were considered interchangeable in name and value. However, as scientific understanding of the chemical differences between the two became known, rubies moved into a class of their own.

The Black Prince’s Ruby first surfaced in Spain in the 14th century, where several minor kings (most of them brothers) were engaged in combat against one another. The fighting was vicious, and victory was short-lived for each one of them.

The famous stone is documented to have begun its journey to the Tower of London in the possession of Abu Said in Spain, who lost it to his brother Don Pedro in what sounds like an ambush. Soon after his victory over Abu Said, Don Pedro fled (with the gemstone) from another brother, Henry, to Bordeaux. In Bordeaux, Don Pedro engaged the assistance of Edward of Woodstock, who was more than happy to help defeat Henry in exchange for treasure, including the Ruby.

It was this same Edward of Woodstock from whom the stone inherited its now-famous name. Though he does not give an explanation, other than that “some writers name him” such, Edward’s nickname, The Black Prince, was first documented by Richard Grafton in his book titled, Chronicle of England.
The gem seems to have gone underground for the next fifty years, only to reappear in yet another king’s possession, this time Henry V of England. Henry mounted the gemstone in his battle helmet, and although he lost part of his crown and nearly his head, he and the Ruby remained firmly established in England in 1415.

In subsequent years, the Ruby passed through the hands of several kings and should have met its doom when Cromwell melted down and sold the entire royal treasury after the execution of Charles I in 1649. However, it is reported that Charles I sold the gem before this most destructive event.

Though the amount he sold it for is in dispute, it resurfaced in 1660, when an unknown party sold it to Charles II. The gem narrowly escaped robbery and fire in subsequent years and has resided in several different crowns over the years. In 1821, it was set into the Imperial State Crown for George IV’s coronation and resides there to this day.


1. Grafton, Richard. Grafton’s Chronicle; or, History of England. London: J. Johnson, et. al., 1809.
2. Bowersox, Gary W. and Bonita E. Chamberlin, Ph. D. Gemstones of Afghanistan. Tucson: Geoscience Press, Inc., 1995.
3. Oldershaw, Cally. Firefly Guide to Gems. Toronto: Firefly Books Ltd., 2003.
4. Hughes, Richard. Ruby & Sapphire. Bangkok, Thailand: RWH Publishing, 1997.
5. Mineral Gallery. "The Mineral Spinel." Accessed June 11, 2012.
6. Ferrebee, Wayne. "The Black Prince's Ruby." ferrebeekeeper blog. Posted September 27, 2010. Accessed June 11, 2012.
7. Ruby-Sapphire. "The Black Prince's Ruby." Accessed June 11, 2012. ;

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prominent Features of the Imperial State Crown

Queen Elizabeth II wears State Imperial Crown
at the State Opening of Parliament.
Photo Credit: The Royal Firm
In 1937, the Imperial State Crown had weakened and fallen into disrepair from its constant use. That year it was remade, and in its current state is home to over 3,000 diamonds, as well as many other precious gems including rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and pearls.

It features four fleur-di-lis with rubies as centerpieces, alternating with four cross pattee, three of which are inlaid with centerpiece emeralds. From these four crosses rise diamond-paved half-arches accented with pearl acorns, which commence at a diamond-studded monde on which a Maltese cross rests regally.

This uppermost cross has as its centerpiece the first of four of the most famous gemstones in the British Collection, St. Edward's Sapphire. Moving down the arch from the monde, we come to the second famous gemstone, the Black Prince’s Ruby. This infamous spinel serves as the centerpiece for the central cross pattee.

The band of the Imperial State Crown features a delicate, nearly floral design in which the central pieces are alternating emeralds and sapphires, two of which also claim the title of famous gemstones. Just beneath the Black Prince’s Ruby rests the Cullinan II, the fourth-largest polished diamond in the world. Finally, opposite the Cullinan II on the back of the band, the Stuart Sapphire rests beneath a cross pattee.

Clearly priceless in its historical significance, the Imperial State Crown remains a piece of the British Regalia, the coronation ceremony jewels. Traditionally, it is used during the coronation ceremony and historically was worn by the Sovereign for the Opening of Parliament each year. However, unless she wears two different crowns for different parts of the ceremony, it appears that Queen Elizabeth II has favored the George IV State Diadem for the Opening of Parliament.


1. Official Website of the British Monarchy, The. "The Crown Jewels." Accessed June 11, 2012.
2. Royal Exhibitions. "St Edward's Crown." Accessed June 11, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Imperial State Crown: An Introduction

Imperial State Crown
Photo Source: Mimi's Corner

The current Imperial State Crown, shown here, was modified from its original form for Queen Victoria in 1838. This beauty weighs two pounds, stands 12 inches high, and is adorned with some of the most famous gemstones in the British Empire.

Although George IV petitioned Parliament for permission to use his favored State Diadem for his coronation ceremony, his request was denied. In 1821, at the time of his coronation, it was customary for the Crown (the State) to hire the gemstones from Rundell & Bridge at a rate of 10% of their actual value (£6,525). After the ceremony, the gems were removed from the crown, and the empty frame was placed on display among the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

Queen Victoria also had hopes of wearing the George IV Diadem in lieu of the heavier Imperial State Crown. While she was able to wear the smaller crown for most of the service, it was the Imperial State Crown which the was placed on her head after she was robed in purple and seated on St. Edward’s Chair.

The last to wear the Imperial State Crown was Queen Elizabeth II, who was reported to have worn the crown for her everyday tasks throughout the few weeks prior to her coronation. Wearing the crown for tea, for reading the paper, and for conducting business at her desk afforded her the opportunity to grow used to standing tall beneath its great weight.


1. Hartop, Christopher. Royal Goldsmiths: The Art of Rundell & Bridge 1797-1843. Cambridge: John Adamson for Koopman Rare Art, 2005.
2. Fashion Era. "Rehearsals for Movement and Make Up." Accessed June 11, 2012. for Movement and Make Up.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Monday, June 11, 2012

Diamonds: A Diamond Jubilee Exhibition

Queen Victoria's Fringe Brooch
Made by R. & S. Garrard & Co., 1856
Photo Source: The Royal Collection, 2012

Diamonds are the quintessential gemstone of queens, and Queen Elizabeth II certainly prefers them over other gemstones. Beginning at the end of June, Her Royal Majesty graciously agreed to allow The Royal Collection to host an exhibit of some of the most exquisite historical diamond jewelry in the United Kingdom. Some of these pieces from her personal collection have never before been shown in public, making this a historical jewelry event in and of itself.

More than a static display of glittering jewels, the Jubilee Diamond Exhibition will be a lesson in jewelry history spanning nearly 200 years. Among the most exquisite jewels from Her Royal Majesty’s personal collection is Queen Victoria’s Fringe Brooch. Made in 1856 by Garrard & Co., this brooch was bequeathed from the Queen Mother to HRM Elizabeth II in 2002. Featuring a large emerald-cut diamond surrounded by 12 smaller (but still substantial) brilliant-cut diamonds, this portion of the piece is detachable and can be worn with or without the nine graduated chains inset with diamonds.

Another of Her Majesty’s personal items has seen a number of transformations since she first received it as a birthday gift on April 21, 1947. Presented to Princess Elizabeth on behalf of the Government of the Union of South Africa, the South Africa necklace was designed in a repeating pattern of a large brilliant diamond (graduating in size to culminate with a 10-carat diamond center stone), followed by a smaller brilliant-cut diamond, a baguette diamond, and another smaller brilliant-cut diamond.

On April 18, 1947, Princess Elizabeth visited the Big Hole Mine with her parents (George VI and Queen Elizabeth I), where she met Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, Chairman of the De Beers Consolidated Mines. Sir Oppenheimer gave the Princess a 6-carat diamond, which was later used to make a detachable snap-piece for the South Africa necklace.

The stunning necklace underwent its final transformation in 1952, when six of the larger diamonds, as well as the snap-piece made from the De Beers diamond, were removed in order to fashion the bracelet that now completes the Queen’s South Africa necklace and bracelet set.

Truly a remarkable display, you will not want to miss the Diamond Exhibition, on in London through The Royal Collection.


1. Royal Collection, The. "Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration." Accessed June 8, 2012.
2. Royal Collection, The. "Queen Victoria's Fringe Brooch." Accessed June 8, 2012.
3. Royal Collection, The. "The Queen's South Africa necklace and bracelet." Accessed June 8, 2012.
4. "Queen Elizabeth' collection of jewels revealed for first time." Posted May 5, 2012. Accessed June 8, 2012.
5. Kauri, Vidya. "Queen's diamonds to go on display for Diamond Jubilee." National Post. May 16, 2012. Last modified May 16, 2012. Accessed June 8, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Treasures from the Royal Palace: A Diamond Jubilee Exhibition

Mosaic Easter Egg by Peter Carl Faberge, 1914
The Royal Collection, copyright 2012, HM Queen Elizabeth II
Photo Source: History Extra Magazine

Treasures from the Royal Palaces is a special exhibition celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. The exhibit officially opened on March 16, 2012, with public displays in the Queen’s Gallery of Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse (the Queen’s official residence in Scotland).

Though a large portion of the collection features paintings from old masters, as well as drawings from Leonardo da Vinci, a significant array of jewelry, gemstones, and jeweled decorations is also on display. Among the jewels, you will see several cameos from the Hellenistic period (1st and 2nd century BC), acquired by King George III from the collection of Consul Joseph Smith of Venice in 1762.

These ancient cameos appear to have been reset in gold as pendants during the late 1700s. The cameo collection also includes carvings from Imperial Rome, Northern Italy, and England, all from the 1700s.

One of the most beautiful displays of jewelry is a parure, which has an equally beautiful history. Exquisitely fashioned in 1899, this beautiful ensemble was made of enamelled gold, pearls, rubies, and emeralds, and was originally given as a gift by Mary, Queen of Scots, to her faithful attendant, Mary Seton.

Ms. Seton’s family maintained ownership of the matching jewels until they sold them at auction through Christie’s in 1894. The daughter of the new owner, Lilias Countess Bathurst, gave the set to Queen Mary during George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935.

Probably the most impressive jeweled item on display at the Queen’s Palaces is the Mosaic Easter Egg, one of the most ornate of the Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs. The Mosaic Egg was commissioned in 1914 by Tsar Nicholas II for his wife, Tsarina Alexandra (grand-daughter of Queen Victoria).

Designed by Alma Theresia Pihl, the egg was hand crafted with tiny individual squares cut precisely out of platinum. Into each perfectly calibrated slot a square-cut gemstone was inlaid by hand. Set with rubies, sapphires, demantoid, garnets, diamonds, and pearls, this beautiful egg harbored a surprise, which was revealed on Easter morning 1914, when Tsarina Alexandra opened it for the first time.

The egg's hidden surprise featured an enamelled medallion bearing the Russian (Romanov) Imperial Crown made out of diamonds and platinum. On the front of the medallion the five Romanov children were carved in profile, and on the back a Victorian-style basket of flowers sits surrounded by the names of their children.


1. Royal Collection, The. "Treasures from The Queen's Palaces: Gems and Jewels." Accessed June 8, 2012.
2. Royal Collection, The. "Treasures from the Queen's Palaces." Accessed June 8, 2012.
3. Royal Collection, The. "Zeus." Accessed June 8, 2012.
4. Royal Collection, The. "Parure with necklace, brooch and earrings." Accessed June 8, 2012.
5. de Guitaut, Caroline. "Imperial Easter Egg by Albert Holmstrom." (Video.) Accessed June 8, 2012.
6. Royal Collection, The. "About The Queen's Gallery." Accessed June 8, 2012.<
7. Royal Collection, The. "About the Palace of Holyroodhouse." Accessed June 8, 2012.

*Clip Art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Queen—Art & Image: A Diamond Jubilee Exhibition

Queen Elizabeth II
Portrait by Dorothy Wilding, circa 1952
Featuring the necklace from the Nizar of Hyderabad
Photo Source: Visit London

In the wake of the grand celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, several different museums will showcase special exhibitions which will be of particular interest to jewelry enthusiasts. The first of these exhibits opened on May 17, 2012, at the National Portrait Gallery at St. Martin’s Place in London

The Queen: Art & Image is a treasury of portraits of Queen Elizabeth II throughout her reign as queen. The exhibit features the works of prolific portraitist, Bassano; photographer, designer, and writer, Cecil Beaton; painter, Pietro Annigoni; photographer and 5th Earl of Lichfield, Thomas Patrick John Anson; as well as many others. This gorgeous display features Queen Elizabeth II in all her glory across the span of her 60-year reign.

By far one of the better historical records of the jewelry Her Royal Majesty chose for each marked occasion, the 712 portraits, which will be on display until October 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery, reveal not only the varied and beautiful jewels of the British Empire, but also which have been the queen’s favorites.

It is clear that in her early days as queen, she favored her three-strand pearls for informal occasions. For more formal occasions, she favored the crown she affectionately calls “Granny’s Tiara” and the Cartier diamond and platinum necklace, which was a wedding gift from Osman Ali Khan, the Nizar of Hyderabad, in 1947. In the new millennium, she began to favor the Diamond Diadem (formerly known as the George IV Diadem) and what appear to be the Duchess of Teck pearl and diamond earrings. Though there is a bit of sleuthing involved with piecing her jewelry history together, it is made easier through thanks to these portraits.


1. Directgov. "The Queen's Diamond Jubilee--celebrations and events." Accessed June 8, 2012.
2. National Portrait Gallery. "The Queen: Art & Image." Accessed June 8, 2012.
3. "Queen Elizabeth's collection of jewels revealed for first time." Last modified May 5, 2012. Accessed June 8, 2012.
4. Aguilar, Christine. "Peep the Beauty Queen of Jewelry Collection." Etc. Fashion Blog. Posted June 5, 2012. Accessed June 8, 2012.
5. Royal Wedding, A. "Diamond and platinum necklace." Accessed June 8, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Thames River Pageant: Queen Elizabeth II’s Jewels

Queen Elizabeth II
Thames River Pageant, June 3, 2012
Photo Source: ABC News

Perhaps the highlight event of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee was the Thames River Pageant. On the afternoon of June 3, 2012, a royal display of nautical pageantry filled the River Thames.

Leading a flotilla of over 1,000 boats, a floating belfry rang with the peals of eight bells. As the parade floated past, standing bell towers on shore answered the waterborne chimes all along the route. Many of the passengers in these first boats had the privilege of waving to the Queen as she waited for departure aboard the Spirit of Chartwell.

In the photo above, Her Royal Majesty is seen waiting to board the ornately decorated barge. She is outfitted in a white silk dress and ivory boucle coat embroidered with silvery thread and decorated with gold and silver discs and Swarovski crystals.

The ensemble, designed by Angela Kelly, was crowned by a beautiful and somewhat whimsical hat, complete with white flower applique, made from hand-dyed feathers and Swarovski crystals, which suits Her Majesty’s sparkling eyes and sweet smile.

Her jewels of choice: The lovely three-strand pearl necklace, Queen Mary’s Devon pearl button earrings, and upon her lapel she wears the stunning Jardine Star brooch.

The Jardine Star Brooch, fashioned in the late Victorian Era, features a large collet-set central diamond with eight diamond-studded star points radiating from the center. A gift to Her Royal Majesty from Lady Jardine* in 1981, the brooch features eight collet-set diamonds extending from behind, adding more sparkle, shimmer, and carat weight. In total, this diamond brooch boasts nearly 40 carats of diamonds.

*It seems the identity of Lady Jardine is a mystery waiting to be solved. I have not been able to find Lady Jardine’s first name in direct association with this brooch. However, I did locate a Lady Mary Jardine, who may very well have been the one who gifted the Queen. I am on the hunt for definitive information and will keep you posted.


1. Arthurs, Deborah. "Our Diamond Queen!" Daily Mail Online. Last updated June 3, 2012. Accessed June 5, 2012.
2. Decor to Adore Blog. "Diamond Jubilee-What the Royals Wore." Posted June 4, 2012. Accessed June 5, 2012.
3. Jewellery Editor, The. "Jardine Star Brooch." Accessed June 5, 2012.
4. Jewellery Editor, The. "The Queen wears diamond and pearl jewels at Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant." Accessed June 5, 2012.
5. Occenola, Paige. "Elizabeth II: Queen regnant and style icon." Rappler Beta. Last modified June 5, 2012. Accessed June 5, 2012.
6. Artemisia. "Jewellery of the Day: The Jardine Star Brooch." The Royal Forums. Posted June 4, 2012. Accessed June 5, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee Diamonds

Queen Elizabeth II
Official Diamond Jubilee Portrait
Photographed by John Swannell
Photo Source: Haute Living

In this, Her Majesty’s official Diamond Jubilee portrait, Queen Elizabeth II is wearing a stately white gown made of silk, satin, and lace. Elegantly enhanced with silvery sequins in patterns across most of the bodice, including along the beautifully scalloped neckline, this beautiful dress was designed specifically for the Diamond Jubilee by Her Majesty's personal fashion adviser, Angela Kelly.

Ms. Kelly is responsible for all the details of Her Majesty’s public fashion, including designing her clothes, choosing her accessories, and coordinating with dressmakers. For the photo shoot conducted by Mr. John Swannell, the Queen wears the favored George IV diadem, Queen Victoria’s Collet Necklace with matching earrings.

She also wears the Royal Family Orders of her father and grandfather pinned to the blue Garter Riband on backdrops of fringed silk ribbons. The Garter Riband affirms her position as Sovereign of the Garter, head of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. This order reigns as the highest chivalric order (society of knights), which was founded in 1344 by King Edward III.

In 1935, King George V, Her Majesty’s grandfather, presented her with his Royal Family Order. Established in 1911, this family heirloom features, framed in brilliant cut diamonds, a portrait of His Majesty King George V wearing his Admiral of the Fleet uniform. A miniature replica of the [Imperial State Crown] overlaying an enamelled cap of estate, suspended from a string of diamonds mounted in gold. The backside bears the date (1911) and George V's royal cypher set in diamonds. The badge is fastened by a platinum brooch pin to a riband bow in the pale blue associated with the Royal Guelphic Order of Hanover.

Shortly before her coronation in 1937, Elizabeth II received from her father, King George VI in 1937, the Royal Family Order badge which bears his painted portrait surrounded by baguette and brilliant cut diamonds suspended beneath a stylized miniature of the Imperial State Crown. Its moire-silk ribbon is pale pink.

The final piece of jewelry seen in Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee portrait is positioned ceremonially on the left side of the Queen’s chest. The Garter Star is an eight-point silver badge with an enameled heraldic shield of St. George’s Cross encircled by a garter.”


1. Debrett's. "Angela Kelly." Accessed June 4, 2012.'s-diamond-jubilee/style-icon/clothes/angela-kelly.aspx.
2. The Official Website of The British Monarchy. "Official Diamond Jubilee photographs released, 6 February 2012." Accessed June 4, 2012.
3. Gracie Jewellery Blog. "Royal Family Orders." Posted April 26, 2011. Accessed June 4, 2012.
4. Royal Collection. Queen & Commonwealth: The Royal Tour. Photograph: "King George VI Royal Family Order." Accessed June 4, 2012.
5. Royal Exhibitions. "King George IV Family Order." Accessed June 4, 2012.
6. Royal Collection. Queen & Commonwealth: The Royal Tour. Photograph: "King George V Royal Family Order." Accessed June 4, 2012.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy