03 June 2018

The Pearl Triangle Brooch

Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch during a visit to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, 25 May 2000 (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has a famously vast collection of brooches, including many classic pieces set with diamonds and pearls. Over the past three decades, though, one of these pearl and diamond brooches has become a steady favorite: the Pearl Triangle Brooch.




YUN JAI-HYOUNG/AFP/Getty Images

We don't know a whole lot about the provenance of the brooch. The name generally used for the piece comes from its description by Leslie Field in The Queen's Jewels: "an unusual long narrow diamond triangle with two pearls and a canary yellow diamond set in the middle." The yellow diamond can be seen at the bottom of the brooch. The overall design of the brooch suggests an early twentieth-century construction date to me -- its geometric lines are reminiscent of the Art Deco period -- but we haven't had confirmation of its maker or its creation date. We don't even appear to know how it arrived in the Queen's jewelry box!


Carl De Souza/Getty Images

Good close-up views of this brooch are difficult to come by -- the intricate details of the diamond design seem to be tough to photograph on a moving wearer. But in this image, you get a good idea of the size and shape of the pearls, and you can also see the yellow color of the bottom diamond -- something that's difficult to detect in many images.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch to open the Women in War exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London, 14 October 2003 (JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images)

Often, the Queen reserves various brooches to be worn with specific colors, but she has worn the Pearl Triangle with clothing in nearly every color of the rainbow. In 2003, she paired it with a textured cream ensemble for a visit to the Imperial War Museum.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor, 30 July 2000 (HUGO PHILPOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

The brooch stood out against the Queen's peachy jacket and dress as she watched a polo match in Windsor in 2000.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch for a visit to the Clyde Shopping Center in Glasgow, 4 July 2003 (ANDREW PARSONS/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2003, the brooch managed to hold its own against this yellow and mint ensemble in Scotland. The buttery yellow highlighted the creaminess of the brooch's pearls and the unusual yellow hue of its largest diamond.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch at Royal Ascot, 21 June 2003 (Steve Finn/Getty Images)

The details of the brooch's diamond design jumped out when paired with this springy green coat at Royal Ascot in June 2003.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch at the National Cemetery in Seoul, 19 April 1999 (YUN JAI-HYOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)

The pearls and diamonds were also beautiful against this blue ensemble, worn in South Korea in 1999 for a visit to the monument for unknown soldiers who died in the Korean War.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park, 13 June 2004 (Carl De Souza/Getty Images)

The Queen has even pinned the brooch to clothing with bright patterns and colors, like this floral outfit from the Hildon Queen's Cup Final at the Guards Polo Club in 2004.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch for a visit to The Workhouse in London, 9 June 1999 (SINEAD LYNCH/AFP/Getty Images)

The brooch's simple elegance has made it suitable for all sorts of occasions, and you'll see the Queen wear it for a variety of different events, from diplomatic receptions to trips to occasions of remembrance and celebration. And the Queen's even worn it to the gym! (Well, she wore it for a visit to a gym, The Workhouse, in June 1999. That's her eyeing the exercise equipment in the photo above.)


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch in Bonavista, Newfoundland, 24 June 1997 (CARLO ALLEGRI/AFP/Getty Images)

The brooch has also accompanied the Queen on foreign and Commonwealth tours, including her ten-day visit to Canada in the summer of 1997, where she participated in the 500th anniversary celebrations of the landing of explorer John Cabot.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Peal Triangle Brooch to bid farewell to President Alexandre Kwasniewski of Poland at Buckingham Palace, 7 May 2004 (DAVE CAULKIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Queen has also chosen the brooch for diplomatic occasions at home. In May 2004, for example, she wore the brooch at Buckingham Palace for the final farewell event of the state visit from President and First Lady Kwasniewski of Poland.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch on Easter Sunday, 1 April 2018 (Simon Dawson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The brooch is still a regular part of her jewelry rotation. One of its most recent appearances came in April 2018, when she wore the brooch with a vivid violet coat for Easter Sunday services at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch outside St. James's Palace, 5 September 1997 (JOEL ROBINE/AFP/Getty Images)

But the most famous appearance of the brooch will probably always be the Queen's walkabout outside St. James's Palace on the day before the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. Although it includes some major gemstones, the design of the brooch is just as appropriate for a wearer in mourning as it is for occasions of celebration.


Queen Elizabeth II wears the Pearl Triangle Brooch as she addresses the nation on the eve of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, 5 September 1997

With public approval of the monarchy waning during the tumultuous week following Diana's death, this appearance from the Queen, including her familiar clothing and jewelry, played a major role in calming and soothing her grieving people. You'll probably remember the brooch from her landmark televised address to the nation, during which she reminded us all that she is both a monarch and a grandmother -- a sovereign and a member of the family.