Posts tagged Queen Elizabeth II jewellery
THE SAPPHIRE QUEEN

Queen Elizabeth II wearing the sapphire and diamond earrings and necklace her father gave her to mark her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947.

This week marks a milestone for Queen Elizabeth II- she ascended the throne on the 6th February 1952; she has reigned for 65 years, longer than any other monarch in British history and this milestone has been declared her Sapphire Jubilee.  Sapphires suit Her Majesty, matching the colour of her eyes and skin tone, so here we take a look at some of the most impressive pieces in her collection.

The brooch Queen Victoria received from Prince Albert on her wedding day.  She rarely wore after his death and left it to the Crown in her will to be worn by all future queens.

Buckingham Palace today released an official portrait of the Queen to mark her latest landmark.  In it she wears sapphire and diamond necklace and earrings, the stones clearly being of matchless quality.  This set is particularly poignant to her- she received them as a wedding present from her father George VI to celebrate her marriage to Prince Philip in 1947.  The King was only 56 when he died, so to the Queen her Accession Day is a bittersweet occasion- a reminder that her long reign is in part due to the early death of her father.  She has worn the set often, as it is matches exactly the colour of her Garter riband.  In 1963 the Queen had a tiara and bracelet made to complete the set, using stones from a necklace that had originally belonged to Queen Louise of Belgium.

The pearl, sapphire and diamond brooch Queen Mary bought from the Empress Marie Feodorovna's estate in 1929.  It had been given to the Empress as a wedding present from her sister, the future Queen Alexandra.

The pearl, sapphire and diamond brooch Queen Mary bought from the Empress Marie Feodorovna's estate in 1929.  It had been given to the Empress as a wedding present from her sister, the future Queen Alexandra.

An essential part of the Queen’s uniform is a brooch, which she always wears on her left shoulder.  One of the most romantic sapphires in her collection is the Albert Brooch, given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert on their wedding day.  It consists of a magnificent large sapphire surrounded by 12 diamonds.  Because of its romantic  associations, Victoria rarely wore it after the death of her beloved Albert and in her will left it to the Crown ‘to be worn by all future Queens of the United Kingdom’.

Another brooch of note is the Empress Marie Feodorovna’s sapphire and diamond brooch.  This jewel too was a wedding present- it was given to the future Empress in 1866 to mark her marriage to the Tsarevich, the future Alexander III by her sister and brother-in-law, Alexandra Princess of Wales and the future Edward VII.  When the Empress died in exile in 1929, this, along with several other pieces, were acquired by Queen Mary.  The brooch must have attracted her attention not only due to the quality of the piece but also the family connection.

Staying with the Romanov theme, another important piece acquired by Queen Mary but very rarely seen is the Empress’ sapphire and diamond bandeau tiara.  It is a stylish piece centred on an important cushion cut sapphire with diamond rays radiating from it.  It was acquired at the same time as the brooch and Queen Mary wore it often.  It was inherited by the Queen and although she has never worn it, she loaned it several times to Princess Margaret.  It is a piece Royal jewel watchers would love to see resurrected from the vaults, especially on the Duchess of Cambridge.

Rarely seen: Princess Margaret wears another Romanov heirloom, the sapphire and diamond bandeau bought from Empress Marie of Russia's estate.

My personal favourite is the Queen’s Art Deco sapphire bracelet.  It was given to her by her (clearly very generous) father.  A favourite piece of the monarch’s, it is classic Art Deco, perfect timeless design that never dates.

18th Birthday Present: the art deco sapphire and diamond bracelet the Queen was given by her father George VI to mark her landmark birthday.

THE GRAND DUCHESS VLADIMIR TIARA

The Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara owned by Queen Elizabeth II, which she inherited from her grandmother Queen Mary.  It is shown hung with the Cambridge emeralds, which she also inherited from her grandmother.

The Queen wearing the Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara with the rest of the Cambridge emeralds.  The necklace is also hung with a cleaving from the Cullinan diamond.

This beautiful piece of jewellery has graced the heads of three magnificent matriarchs of royal dynasties: the Grand Duchess Vladimir (who commissioned it), Queen Mary (who bought it) and Queen Elizabeth II (who inherited it), and is associated with a romantic story of escape during the Russian Revolution. 

It was ordered in the 1870s from Bolin, Russia’s most famous jeweller after Fabergé, around the time of Marie’s marriage into the Romanov family.  It must have been one of the first of many important pieces of jewellery to come her way.  Its style was a revolution in simplicity by the standards of the time when the leading trend was the Garland style, with jewellery tending to be modelled on elaborate festoons of flowers. 

The Grand Duchess Vladimir began life as Princess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, a scion of a relatively modest principality in Germany.  In spite of considerable opposition she married the Grand Duke Vladimir, uncle of Tsar Nicholas II and into a life of unimaginable splendour.  A weaker character would have been overawed by this newfound status, but Marie revelled and excelled in her position.  Stories abound of her hosting fancy dress parties where she wore jewel encrusted peasant style dresses.  The Tsarina Alexandra was steadily withdrawing from public life due to her son’s haemophilia (which was then a State secret), so Marie developed a glittering rival court in St. Petersburg.  She cultivated her jewellery collection to enhance this position, from whence she patronised the foremost artists and revolutionary styles of her day.  The Grand Duchess included in her collection wonderful stones then considered slightly inferior such as cat’s eyes and tourmalines.         

The circle tiara was hugely successful and its groundbreaking style was recognised by Cartier, who took the opportunity to make three copies of it when it was sent there for cleaning.  It was clearly a favourite, as there are several existing official photographs of the Grand Duchess wearing the piece throughout her life.   

The Grand Duchess Vladimir wearing the tiara she commissioned from Bolin.  She is photographed with her only daughter, Elena, who married Prince Nicholas of Greece.  She sold the tiara to Queen Mary in 1921.  Her daughter Marina married the Queen's uncle, the Duke of Kent.  Note the grandeur and sumptuousness of their Court dress.

Queen Mary wearing the Vladimir tiara.  Note her diamond studded Garter star.

The Grand Duchess finally escaped Russia in 1919, taking with her only a small bag of her once vast treasure.  The bulk of her possessions were left walled up in her St. Petersburg palace, when a relatively junior figure at the British Embassy called Bertie Stopford took it upon himself to break into the yet undiscovered safe and smuggle the treasures out of Russia on behalf of the Romanov family.  There is a romantic, though unsubstantiated story that Stopford stuffed the tiara into a black bonnet whilst disguised as an old woman, and the pearls were concealed into false cherries sewn onto this.  The majority of the jewels were re-united with their owner, who died in exile in 1920 at Contrexéville in France.  The jewels were divided by her children according to stones, the diamonds going to the Grand Duchess Elena (who married Prince Nicholas of Greece), the pearls to Grand Duke Cyril, the emeralds to Grand Duke Boris and the rubies to Grand Duke Andrei.  The tiara was bought from Princess Nicholas of Greece in 1921 by Queen Mary, whose daughter Marina married the future Duke of Kent. 

Queen Mary also altered the tiara to make the pearl drops interchangeable with emerald cabochon drops, and the Queen has been photographed many times wearing it with either stone.  At a State Banquet in Latvia in 2006 the piece was worn with no drops.

The Vladimir tiara hung with its original pearls.  It was completely reset in the late 1990s by Garrards onto a more resistant platinum frame.