Her Majesty the Queen had a spellbinding collection of historic and personal jewels in her collection, including heirloom pieces passed down through the royal generations as well as poignant gifts from dignitaries and loved ones.
The Crown Jewels are a collection of royal ceremonial objects kept at the Tower of London and are only worn at coronations (as pictured below) and the annual State Opening of Parliament. However, the many pieces which made up the Queen and crown’s impressive jewellery collection could be chosen for any occasion.
In her lifetime, the Queen wore many jewels that carried great historical significance, such as the Golden Jubilee Necklace which was created for Queen Victoria. Others were steeped in sentimental value, such as the scarab brooch she received from her husband, Prince Philip.
Famously generous with her pieces, the Queen leant many of her jewels to other women of the royal family, including Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge, just as she had been leant jewels by generations before her.
We look back at 12 of the most beautiful and meaningful pieces of jewellery Queen Elizabeth II ever wore and the history behind them.
1. The Queen's engagement ring
There are few pieces of jewellery as significant in any person’s life as an engagement ring. When Prince Philip proposed to the then Princess Elizabeth in 1946, he presented her with a three-carat diamond solitaire engagement ring on a platinum band, with five smaller diamonds each side of the main stone.
The Duke of Edinburgh also helped to design a special wedding bracelet (seen above at the couple's 50th wedding anniversary) as a gift for his new bride with a key sentimental detail. The diamonds used to create both pieces were taken from a tiara belonging to his mother, Princess Andrew of Greece.
2. The Lovers' Knot Brooch
This stunning bow-shaped diamond brooch is called the Lovers’ Knot, making it a fitting piece for Her Majesty to wear to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011.
The Queen inherited a number of bow-shaped brooches from queens before her, including from Queen Victoria and her grandmother, Queen Mary, who was a great lover of jewels and once owned this brooch.
In this photo, Her Majesty also wears the Queen Mary Button Earrings, a classic pair of pearls with a diamond stud which Queen Elizabeth II frequently wore for public outings.
3. Three Strand Pearl Necklace
This beautiful three strand pearl necklace was gifted to the Queen by her grandfather, King George V and she was seen wearing it time and time again.
Above, the Queen can also be seen wearing her aquamarine Cartier Clips, which were an 18th birthday present from her parents.
As a child, the Queen’s father, King George VI added two pearls a year to a platinum necklace chain – a tradition started by Queen Victoria. Her Majesty gave her childhood pearl necklace to her only daughter, Princess Anne to wear on Coronation Day.
4. The Vladimir Tiara
One of the Queen’s most recognisable crowns is the Vladimir Tiara which once belonged to her grandmother, Queen Mary. The unique piece can be altered to feature droplets of either pearls or cabochon emeralds.
Each droplet is stored in a numbered pouch and it takes around an hour for the Queen’s dresser to carefully assemble.
Her Majesty gifted the stunning tiara to Princess Diana as a wedding present, and the Duchess of Cambridge has since worn it on a number of occasions.
5. The Greville Chandelier Earrings
To celebrate her marriage, the Queen was gifted a spectacular pair of Cartier earrings by her parents, which featured every known cut of diamond. However, Her Majesty didn’t get her ears pierced until four years after her wedding, aged 25, so was initially unable to wear them. Her Majesty is pictured above wearing them later for her Coronation Day portrait.
Before her ears were pierced, other earrings owned by the Queen were adapted into clip-ons. This included a pair of diamond earrings she received as a 20th birthday present from her grandmother, which the Queen wore on her wedding day instead.
6. The Flower Basket Brooch
When the Queen gave birth to her first child, Prince Charles, her parents gifted her a ruby and sapphire brooch shaped into a basket of flowers. Her Majesty was seen wearing the brooch for the first time in an official photograph with her new baby, taken a month after he was born.
She continued to wear the jewellery piece over the following decades, including for her 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations and 2013 Christmas speech.
7. The Victorian Suite of Sapphire and Diamond Set
Another wedding gift, this pair of earrings and necklace were originally made in 1850, and were presented to the Queen by her father, King George VI. Later, in 1963, a tiara, pictured above, and bracelet were fashioned to match the sentimental jewellery set.
An official photograph of Her Majesty wearing the original set was taken in 1952, just before her trip to Kenya during which she inherited the throne, due to her father’s sudden death. For this reason, the photograph was withheld from distribution and wasn’t seen until after the mourning period.
8. The Scarab Brooch
Said to be one of Queen Elizabeth II's favourite brooches, this scarab piece was a personal gift from her husband, Prince Philip, in 1966. She wore it on many occasions, including for her 2007 Christmas Day broadcast and to begin her Golden Jubilee tour in Falmouth in 2002.
In 2021, Her Majesty wore the scarab brooch for the first time since Prince Philip’s death for a visit to the HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth. The brooch which was viewed as a subtle tribute to her late husband and his military background.
9. The Four-Row Pearl Choker
This beautiful necklace was commissioned by the Queen and was made of fine pearls from within her own collection.
Her Majesty loaned the necklace to both Diana, Princess of Wales, who wore it to a banquet at Hampton Court Palace in 1982, and the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore it to the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh in 2021.
10. Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee necklace
This spectacular necklace was created to mark Queen Victoria’s fiftieth year on the throne, with donations from more than three million “Women of the British Empire”. It features a detachable centrepiece which Her Majesty’s grandmother, Queen Mary often wore as a brooch in the 1920s, before it was finally passed down to Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.
In this image, the Queen can also be seen wearing a pair of diamond and pearl earrings along with the Kensington Bow Brooch, both of which she inherited from her grandmother.
11. The Queen Mother’s maple leaf brooch
When the Queen Mother visited Canada in 1939, she was presented with a diamond brooch in the shape of a maple leaf – the national emblem of the country.
She later lent it to her daughter, the then Princess Elizabeth, when she undertook her first tour of Canada alongside Prince Philip. Her Majesty wore it many times over the years, most recently to meet Canadian soldiers in 2021.
In a sentimental gesture, the Queen also leant the brooch to the Duchess of Cambridge in 2009 when she and Prince William embarked on their own visit to Canada, just as her mother had done for her.
12. Queen Alexandra’s Tiara
This distinctive tiara belonged to the Queen’s great grandmother, Queen Alexandra. The stunning tiara can also be worn as a necklace and is made from an impressive 61 platinum bars studded with no fewer than 488 diamonds.
Her Majesty can be seen wearing the crown here with Queen Adelaide’s Fringe Necklace, another heirloom piece which doubles as a tiara.
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