A Visit to Buckingham Palace for Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration

Yesterday, two Royal Posters visited Buckingham Palace to see the smashing jewelry exhibit put on to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It is most aptly named Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration and it was magnificent. Serious jumpy claps…

The exhibit includes some choice selections from the Queen’s personal collection as well as from the Royal Collection. As the book which accompanies the exhibit explains:

“These works span three centuries and have been selected for their significance as works of art, for their diversity of diamond cutting and mounting that they embody, and for their historic importance. They also illustrate the ways in which diamonds have been used by royal patrons and collectors. Several of the exhibits were commissioned by Queen Victoria (reigned 1837-1901), the only other British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. These works of art are distinct from the state regalia and jewels (Crown Jewels) held in the Tower of London.”

The tour includes complimentary audio tour which begins with a warm welcome from Prince Charles. After walking through the grand state rooms, including the throne room where wedding photos are traditionally taken, it’s time to see the diamonds. The room where the exhibit is set up has dim lighting, but each piece is lit up for extra glittery effect, and there’s no rush to go from one piece to the next. Love that. Let’s dive in!

Queen Victoria’s Small Diamond Crown

The exhibit was set up in chronological order, so one of the first pieces that you see is Queen Victoria’s Small Diamond Crown, which dates to 1870. After Prince Albert’s death in 1861, the Queen preferred to wear colourless stones as much as possible as a sign of mourning so this new crown certainly fit the bill:

And it really is petite. Petite and sparkly! It weighs only 140 grams and is made up of 1,187 diamonds. The arches can be removed to make it a circlet as well.

And here it is atop the Queen’s head:

It has been worn by Queen Mary and Queen Alexandra, but since 1937 it has been part of the display at the Tower of London.

The Coronation Necklace & Earrings

Moving along, the next pieces that really caused some heart palpitations was the stunning Coronation Necklace:

which were shown with the stunning Coronation Earrings:

These pieces were also also made for Queen Victoria by Garrard and was completed in 1858. One of the drops of the earrings is approximately 12 carats and the other is 7. You can see in the picture that there is some difference in the ‘sparkliness’ of the two, but they are both stunning.

These pieces have since been worn by four Queens during their coronations: first up was Queen Alexandra in 1901, followed by Queen Mary in 1911, Queen Elizabeth in 1937, and of course Her Majesty the Queen in 1953.

The Queen wore the necklace in Canada with her maple leaf dress in July 2010:

And we’ll be getting to those other sparkly pieces she is wearing in short order!

Queen Alexandra’s Coronation Fan

But first, the next piece that I particularly loved seeing is one that I really knew nothing about. This is Queen Alexandra’s Coronation Fan which dates to 1902:

Now that’s a fan! Brilliant and rose cut diamonds are set into the tortoise shell handle in a beautiful, floral design topped with an “A” and coronet. No expense was spared; both sides of the handle are set with diamonds and the precise detail is quite extraordinary.

Some more of the detail can be seen here:

Queen Alexandra passed the fan along to Queen Mary, who then gave it to the future Queen Elizabeth two days before the coronation of King George VI in May 1937. A note in Queen Mary’s hand reads:

For Darling Elizabeth in rememberance of Coronation Day 12th may 1937 from her loving Mama Mary. This fan formerly belonged to Queen Alexandra.

Queen Mary’s Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

My fave of them all comes up next:

We went into quite a bit of detail about this tiara in our post here, so let me just say the obvious, that in real life this tiara is super sparkly and gorgeous.

Fun fact we learned: according to Garrard’s Royal Ledger, this tiara was originally surmounted by 14 large pearls and could also be worn as a necklace or as a coronet, which is how the then Duchess of York (later Queen Mary) wore it to the Devonshire Ball in July 1897. Yes, it was a costume affair:

Which reminds me, we really need to talk about that particular Devonshire Ball in another post. It was quite the evening.

The Cullinan III and IV:

The Sparkliest Award of All Award goes to this brooch:

It was really quite thrilling to see up close. As you may recall, the Queen chose to wear this brooch for the Service of Thanksgiving marking her diamond Jubilee:

There is oodles of history on this piece which we’ll have to get into at another time. Suffice to say it’s gorgeous.

The Cullinan V:

This brooch was there as well:

That centre stone is 18.8 metric carats and can also be removed and suspended from the Cullinan VIII…

The Cullinan VIII:

Which is this delightful piece we have here:

How versatile, eh? That’s the Cullinan VI dangling from it in the above picture.

The Greville Chandelier Earrings

It’s the wee hours of the morning here in London, so I will end with this last, sparkly highlight. Here we have the Greville Chandelier Earrings:

Cartier created these beauties in 1918 for Mrs Greville, a generous grand dame who left them, and several other pieces, to Queen Elizabeth when she passed away in 1942. Mrs. Greville made changes to the original design in 1922 and 1929, which is the last time any changes were made. Each earring is made up of 16 stones.

Here is another shot of the Queen wearing them in Ottawa in 2010:

Not a bad note to end on, is it?

There are oodles of other pieces on display and the exhibit runs until the 7th of October. If you aren’t able to make it,  the next best thing is the book which accompanies the exhibit. It is by Caroline de Guitaut and is chock full of interesting info and pictures galore, and has proved to be great reading! It can be purchased here.

Tomorrow morning brings a visit to the V & A for the exhibit Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950, so off to bed. Will be back with a full review!


Categories: British Royal Family, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Necklaces & Bracelets, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Royal Jewels, Tiaras


6 replies

  1. Lovely post! So grateful to have your insights and photos available…..almost like being able to attend the exhibit myself. Can’t wait to see your next post after you’ve attended the ball gowns event!

  2. I am certain these pictures are lovely, but unfortunately they are too small to fully enjoy. Is there some way the pictures could open to a much larger version of the photo in a separate window? i would love to see how beautiful these items truly are! Thanks.


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