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Royal Jewellery Through the Ages

Jewellery & Watch News

With Whitby Jet playing an important role in royal fashion during the reign of Queen Victoria, we take a trip down memory lane and remember some of the other most significant, most beautiful and most memorable pieces of jewellery worn by members of the British royal family.

For royals, jewellery is much more than just a simple adornment but a showcase of political power, a family heirloom or a national treasure. Everything from the metal to the settings to the specific colour and carat of the gemstone is carefully chosen and passed down from one generation to the next. From Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana and Kate Middleton to Meghan Markle’s iconic trilogy engagement ring, let’s take a look at some of the most storied pieces of Royal jewellery.

The Prince Albert Brooch

Gifted to Queen Victoria by her husband Prince Albert on the day before their wedding, this breathtaking sapphire and diamond brooch has since been passed down all generations. Queen Victoria loved the piece so much she wore it on her wedding day and in her will designated is as “an heirloom of the crown,” meaning that the brooch should be worn by future queens. Since Queen Victoria’s death, every queen and queen consort has worn the brooch including Queen Alexandria, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Elizabeth II.

Princess Diana's Engagement Ring

Possibly one of the most iconic pieces of Royal jewellery of the modern age, Princess Diana’s blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring was given to her by her husband-to-be Prince Charles. The ring initially caused a scandal at the time for being an off-the-shelf piece and not bespoke, since it was ordered from the Garrard’s catalogue and could theoretically be reproduced and bought by members of the public. Princess Diana, however, proved her love for the ring and continued to wear it even after their divorce. Then in 2010, Prince William used the very same ring to propose to Kate Middleton and since then, the 12 carat sapphire diamond ring has been widely coveted by brides-to-be everywhere.

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Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara

This sparkling pearl heirloom was first created in 1913 for Queen Mary who wanted something modelled after the Lover’s Knot Tiara worn and owned by her grandmother Princess Augusta of Hesse. The headpiece was designed and crafted by the House of Garrard from pearls and diamonds already owned by the royal family. After Queen Mary’s death, it was passed down to her granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II and although still owned by the Queen, the tiara has been worn by other members of the royal family including Princess Diana and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

Queen Victoria’s Whitby Jet Jewellery

The death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, in 1861 came a huge shock to both Queen Victoria and the world. During her mourning, which lasted the remaining 41 years of her life, Victoria wore only the jet-black gemstone of Whitby Jet in remembrance of her husband and she disallowed the adornment of any other gemstone in court until her death in 1901. During this time and for a long period afterwards, Whitby Jet was worn by many royals who were in mourning.

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Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

Whether you’re a follower of British royalty or not, you will have undoubtedly seen the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara before. Not only is it the headpiece most frequently worn by the Queen, but it is the very tiara she wears in her portrait on British currency. It was originally a wedding present to the Duchess of York then later Queen Mary in 1893 before it was given as a wedding present to Queen Elizabeth II. The original headpiece featured pearl finials at the top, but these were later replaced with diamond collets while the pearls became part of the Lover's Knot tiara seen above.

Queen Mary’s Diamond Bar Choker Bracelet

A fine example of a royal heirloom adapted for the modern age, Queen Mary’s Diamond Bar choker was originally designed to be worn around the neck, but after Mary’s death, the Queen Mother wore it for her 75th birthday as a bracelet. The distinctive chain link design is believed to have been inspired by the Art Deco period and has since been worn as a bracelet by many other members of the royal family including Kate Middleton.

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Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace

Before Prince Albert became the future King Edward VII, he gave his beautiful bride-to-be Princess Alexandra of Denmark a parure of diamond and pearl jewellery as a wedding gift. Among the set was a stunning necklace which she chose to wear on her wedding day. The dazzling piece was eventually passed down to the Queen Mother who wore it often until her death, after which it was then passed onto Queen Elizabeth II. Duchess Kate Middleton has also been spotted wearing it to the 2018 Dutch state banquet.

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The Four-Row Pearl Choker

This breathtaking pearl necklace is believed to have been gifted by the Japanese government to Queen Elizabeth II who has worn it on multiple occasions. It is crafted by Garrard and features four intricate strands of pearls held together by a diamond decorated pendant. The choker has also been worn by Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge.

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The Cartier Halo Tiara

Crafted from platinum and set with 739 brilliant cut diamonds and 149 baton diamonds, the legendary Cartier Halo Tiara is best known for being Kate Middleton’s wedding tiara. Its history expands much further than that though, having originally been purchased from Cartier by King George VI for his wife Queen Elizabeth. The headpiece was eventually passed down to Princess Elizabeth II on her 18th birthday who then loaned it to Kate for her wedding to Prince William.

Meghan Markle’s Trilogy Engagement Ring

Since her engagement to Prince Harry in November 2017, Meghan Markle’s beautiful trilogy engagement ring has been coveted by women all over the world. It’s timeless three stone design includes a centre cushion diamond accented by two brilliant cut diamonds on each side and has a wonderful meaning behind it. Two heirloom diamonds have been used from Princess Diana’s personal collection to represent the past and the present while the centre diamond was carefully selected from Botswana, to represent the new connection between Prince Harry and Meghan and their future together.

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