Queen Elizabeth II is agreed by most to have an inimitable, timeless, regal style. In both her private and personal life diamonds have been a highlight of that style, whether expressed through impressive diamond parures or the discreet elegance of her engagement ring. According to a recent article in The Times, the Queen enjoys tiara time- when she sits down with her small, specialised tool kit and alters the changeable pieces in her tiaras, adding or taking away decorative elements and changing drops and stones.
In celebration of her 90th birthday, I highlight five of my favourite pieces from the Royal Collection.
The Russian Kokoshnik Tiara
Set in platinum, the tiara was given to Queen Alexandra in 1888 on behalf of 365 Peeresses of the United Kingdom. The shape was highly fashionable at the time- it was based on the headdresses of Russian peasant girls. For a tiara, it remains a curiously contemporary looking jewel due to the simplicity and elegance of the line.
The Cullinan III and IV Brooch
We can’t talk about the Queen’s jewels and not mention the Cullinan. This is the most valuable brooch in the world, made from the 3rd and 4th largest cleavings of the largest diamond ever found, the Cullinan. The stones weigh and impressive 94.4 and 63.6 carats and are known affectionately as Granny’s Chips, after Queen Mary, who set them.
The Queen’s Engagement Ring
A classic and timeless design, the stone for this ring came from a tiara that had belonged to Prince Philip’s mother. The rest of the stones were used to make a stunning Art Deco bracelet. To this day, if the Queen starts twisting the ring round her finger, her staff recognise it as a sign of intense annoyance.
The Greville Chandelier Earrings
Included because I love a good pair of verticals and I think these are beautifully proportioned. Gifted to the Queen Mother by Mrs. Ronnie Greville, she presented them to her daughter as a wedding present. Made by Cartier, they include every known modern cut of diamond.
The Rhodesian Flame Lily Brooch
This brooch was a present from the children of Southern Rhodesia during a 1947 tour of Africa. It is a highly realistic rendering of a flame lily in diamonds, the (then) Rhodesia’s national flower. The Queen wore it on the lapel of her black dress as she flew back home on the death of her father.
The Festoon Neklace
Another gift from her father, the Queen often wears this with the Chandelier earrings mentioned above. It was made up from some loose diamonds George VI inherited and probably made by Garrards, the then Crown Jeweller.