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


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