Antique & Estate Jewelry / Diamonds

Queen Elizabeth II’s Most Treasured Jewels on Display at Buckingham Palace

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In May 1937, 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) received her first notable piece of jewelry—a simple gold crown, worn to her parents’ coronation—that marked just the beginning of an unparalleled collection of jewels she continues to acquire at age 96.

Queen Elizabeth II first crown
Queen Elizabeth II’s first crown in gold, circa 1937

And now, to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee (the first of its kind in English royal history), Her Majesty is opening her personal trove of royal jewels to the public in an exhibition organized by the Royal Collection Trust called Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Accession. Buckingham Palace’s State Rooms are filled with one-of-a-kind jewels alongside original portraits of the Queen over her 70-year (and counting!) reign by high-society portrait photographer Dorothy Wilding.

The Diamond Diadem
The Diamond Diadem with 1,333 brilliant-cut diamonds and pearls

Perhaps the most widely recognized piece on display is the Diamond Diadem crown. Created for the 1821 coronation of George IV, it’s set with rows of pearls and an astounding 1,333 brilliant-cut diamonds that form the national emblems of England, Scotland, and Ireland: a rose, thistle, and two shamrocks. Inherited in 1837 by Queen Victoria, who was often photographed in it, the diadem has since been passed through Queens who followed, eventually to Her Majesty the Queen on her coronation.

Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara
The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara with diamonds

The exhibit also highlights the diamond tiara presented by the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland to Queen Mary (Her Majesty’s grandmother), and passed to then Princess Elizabeth in 1947 as a wedding gift. Since, the Queen has had the upper section and bottom band repaired, making it one of the most recognizable pieces in her collection.

Delhi Durbar necklace
The Delhi Durbar necklace with an 8.8 ct. diamond pendant and emeralds, circa 1911

Another distinct piece from the Queen’s personal collection included in the exhibition is the exceptional Delhi Durbar necklace. Incorporating nine emeralds once belonging to Queen Mary’s grandmother, the Duchess of Cambridge, and an 8.8 ct. diamond pendant (cut from the largest diamond ever discovered, the Cullinan diamond), Queen Elizabeth II inherited the piece in 1953 and wore it for (what was believed to be) her last sitting with Wilding in 1956 before the photographer’s retirement. The piece is part of a larger suite consisting of a brooch, bracelet, and earrings.

On through Oct. 2, this rare exhibit is a fantastic opportunity to see these pieces and many more.

Photos courtesy of Royal Collection Trust

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By: Annie Davidson

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