Diamonds are forever – the Queen’s favourites
Buckingham Palace will display a dazzling exhibition of diamonds to mark the Queen’s 60 years on the throne.
She marked her 21st birthday by dedicating her life to the service of the Commonwealth
In a fitting tribute to the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee, the Royal Collection is showing the precious gemstones, charting its association with British monarchs during the last 200 years.
The exhibition, which will be the focal point of the Palace’s 2012 summer opening, will include an unprecedented display of some of the Sovereign’s personal jewels.
Among the items on show will be the Girls of Great Britain Tiara which the Queen recently wore at the state banquet for the Turkish President in November.
It was a wedding present to Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, later Queen Mary – the Queen’s grandmother – on behalf of the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland in 1893.
Originally crafted with upright pearls around the top and a bandeau base, it was altered in 1920 by Queen Mary who replaced the pearls with diamonds and removed the base. It is one of the Queen’s favourites and is forever known as “Granny’s tiara”, being a wedding present from her grandmother in 1947. It is said to be very light and easy to wear.
Many of the pieces that will be on display at the Palace have undergone transformations through the ages – having been re-cut or used in new settings depending on the fashion or the preferences of the queens or princesses who used them.
Visitors will also see the impressive necklace and earrings worn by the Queen at her coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey in 1953.
The collet necklace is formed of 25 large graduated cushion-shaped brilliant-cut diamonds and a central drop-shaped pendant of 22.48 carats.
It was created in 1858 for Queen Victoria – the only other British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee – from a Garter badge and ceremonial sword. The impressive detachable diamond drop known as the Lahore stone was originally part of the Timur ruby necklace. Over time, the necklace, which was also worn at the coronations of Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, has been modified.
Queen Elizabeth – the Queen Mother – used a couple of its larger stones to make another set of earrings, replacing them with diamonds from another necklace. She used it at her coronation, but wore it plain without the pendant diamond, which she used in her tiara.
Historic pieces such as Queen Victoria’s recognisable miniature personal crown which measures just 9cm by 10cm but contains nearly 1,200 diamonds will also be on view.
The jewels the Queen is said to refer to affectionately as “my best diamonds” will also be on display.
The necklace and bracelet she received for her 21st birthday from the South African government are made up of 21 large diamonds.
Princess Elizabeth was in Cape Town for her 21st birthday when she marked her coming of age by delivering the speech in which she pledged to dedicate her “whole life” to service of the Commonwealth.
Amid all the sparkling ice gems will be the monarch’s Williamson Brooch which features a rare pink diamond – said to be the finest in existence.
The 23.6-carat jewel from Tanzania was given to Queen uncut as a wedding present by the Canadian geologist J.T. Williamson and later made into a flower brooch by Cartier in 1953.
Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration will take place at Buckingham Palace in August and September.