15 April 2016

90 Years, 90 Jewels: Part 4 (March 1953)

Elizabeth wears Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara in Brisbane, 1957 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Only a few months before Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, her beloved grandmother, Queen Mary, died of lung cancer. Elizabeth had inherited the "heirlooms of the crown" only eleven months earlier; now, Queen Mary bequeathed her a huge cache of jewels, many of which have formed the cornerstone for her royal jewelry wardrobe throughout her reign. Here's a look at ten pieces from the Queen Mary bequest -- and stay tuned tomorrow for even more.

Need to catch up on previous posts? You can read about the jewels Elizabeth received from 1941-1947, in November 1947, and from 1948-1952. (Also, if you're looking for the weekly jewel poll, check back later today!)

31. Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara: This stunning diamond tiara was made in 1888 as Alexandra's silver wedding gift from a committee of aristocratic women; its design was inspired by a Russian kokoshnik-style tiara worn by her sister, Empress Marie Feodorovna. Alexandra bequeathed it to her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary, who in turn left it to Queen Elizabeth II. The tiara joined a small but growing collection of sparklers; I think its addition to the collection may have ultimately led to the demise of the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara, as the two had a very similar shape and profile. The Queen has worn the kokoshnik regularly throughout her entire reign.

Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

32. Queen Alexandra's Collet Necklace: Garrard made this necklace of 31 diamond collets in 1863; it was Alexandra's wedding present from the City of London. She often wore the piece on a velvet band as a choker. In 1925, it was inherited by Queen Mary, who subsequently passed it along to Queen Elizabeth II. Above, the Queen wears the collet necklace in Toronto in 2010.

33. Queen Alexandra's Wedding Gift Earrings: In 1863, the Prince of Wales presented his new bride, Alexandra of Denmark, with a parure of diamond and pearl jewelry as a wedding gift. The set was made by Garrard the previous year, and it included these cluster earrings, plus a brooch (which we'll discuss tomorrow), a necklace (which we will discuss much later, for reasons you'll understand then), and a tiara (which was inherited by Alexandra's daughter, Victoria, and "subsequently disposed of by her," according to Hugh Roberts). Mary inherited the earrings in 1925 and bequeathed them to her granddaughter in 1953.

34. The Duchess of Gloucester's Pendant Earrings: These elaborate diamond and pearl earrings originally belonged to Queen Mary's great-aunt, Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester. They originally had more elaborate cluster tops; those were removed, and they were given by Mary to Elizabeth in 1947 just before she embarked on her trip to Africa with her parents. The pendant earrings were inherited by Elizabeth in 1953, and she frequently pairs them with Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Necklace, which features a similarly elaborate diamond pattern, and the pearl setting of the Vladimir Tiara.

35. Queen Mary's Chain Link Bracelets: Mary acquired two modern diamond and platinum bracelets from Garrard in 1932 and 1935. They feature identical chain-link patterns, and they can be joined together and worn as a choker necklace. Since they were inherited by the Queen in 1953, she's only ever worn them in bracelet form, as she did above on a 1957 state visit to Denmark.

36. Queen Mary's Cluster Earrings: The large diamonds at the center of these diamond cluster earrings were given to Mary as solitaire stud earrings in 1893 as a wedding present from the Bombay Presidency. In 1939, she had the Bombay diamonds set in this pair of cluster earrings, which she bequeathed to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953.

37. Queen Mary's Floret Earrings: The large diamonds at the center of this pair of diamond floret earrings are the Mackinnon Diamonds, which were given to Mary in 1893 as a wedding present by Sir William Mackinnon. They were set in these diamond and platinum earrings by Garrard in 1939 and inherited by Queen Elizabeth II fourteen years later.

38. The Delhi Durbar Necklace: Elizabeth II inherited this magnificent diamond and emerald negligee necklace, worn by Queen Mary at the 1911 Delhi Durbar, in 1953. The emeralds in the necklace came from the Cambridge emeralds, which had been won by Mary's great-grandmother, in a German state-sponsored charity lottery in 1818. The marquise diamond pendant is one of the Cullinan diamonds (Cullinan VII, to be precise). Since Elizabeth did not inherit the Delhi Durbar Tiara from Mary, she has generally paired this necklace with the Vladimir Tiara in its Cambridge emerald setting.

39. The Vladimir Tiara: Speaking of that tiara -- it was made for Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir, around 1870, and then smuggled out of Russia by a British diplomat during the revolution. Mary bought it from Maria Pavlovna's daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, in 1921. The tiara was originally hung with pearl drops; Mary had it converted so it could also be worn with drops from the Cambridge emerald collection. The tiara has remained one of the Queen's most-worn pieces since she inherited it in 1953.

40. Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara: The third tiara that Mary bequeathed to her granddaughter was her lover's knot tiara, made in 1913 to resemble one once owned by Mary's grandmother, Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge. The Queen wore this fairly frequently in the early years of her reign, and then later loaned it to Diana, Princess of Wales and to the Duchess of Cambridge.

(Let's do a quick tiara tally, shall we? In the span of less than a decade, Elizabeth II acquired the Cartier Halo Tiara, the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, Princess Andrew's Meander Tiara, the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara, the Diamond Diadem, Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik, the Vladimir Tiara, and the Lover's Knot Tiara. All before her 27th birthday, and all before she was even crowned. Not too shabby, hm?)

Tomorrow in 90 Years, 90 Jewels: we'll look at the way that the Queen Mary bequest of 1953 upped the number of brooches in the Queen's jewelry box