04 March 2018

Queen Elizabeth II's Aquamarine Clips

Michael Dunlea/Getty Images

Combine a gorgeous, pale blue gemstone, the lovely aquamarine, and a classic brooch form, paired clips, and you get today's royal brooch: the set of aquamarine clips that belong to Queen Elizabeth II.


The clips have been in the Queen's jewelry box since years before she took the throne. They were a birthday gift to the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1944 from her father, King George VI. The vibrant blue shade of the aquamarines is especially clear in this photo, taken at the Rambert Dance Company in London in May 2001.


The blue gems also shone brightly during the Queen's visit to Imperial College in London in June 2004. For years, many royal jewel writers (including me!) thought the clips were made by Cartier, as Leslie Field attributed them to that firm in The Queen's Jewels. She described the brooches as a "typically 1940s design, combining baguette, oval, and round stones."


But when the clips were included in the summer 2006 exhibition of the Queen's dresses and jewels at Buckingham Palace, a palace press release described them as "a pair of Boucheron aquamarine and diamond clip brooches given to Princess Elizabeth by her father, King George VI, for her 18th birthday."


The Queen has worn the clips connected as a single brooch, but she generally wears them as separate clips, sometimes placing them vertically, as she did aboard the HMS Endurance in June 2005, or staggered on her shoulder or collar.


The clips remain a regular part of the Queen's jewelry rotation today, including a prominent recent appearance during President Obama's visit to London in 2016. I'd love to see the brooches worn as a single brooch again!