04 July 2018

The Grima Bicentennial Brooch

The Grima Bicentennial Brooch (Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library/Wikimedia Commons)

Happy Independence Day, fellow American magpies! I'm taking the day off to enjoy parades, barbecue, and fireworks with my family, but before I go, I've got an intriguing bit of American bling to share with you: the Grima Bicentennial Brooch.




Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library/Wikimedia Commons

As you might expect from the name, the brooch dates from 1976, when the United States celebrated the 200th anniversary of its independence from Britain. That summer, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom paid tribute to the enduring ties of friendship that now exist between the two nations by calling on the presidential couple at the White House for a state visit.


Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library/Wikimedia Commons

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Washington on July 7, 1976, and were hosted by President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford at the White House. The first day of the visit included a luncheon, a state dinner (with entertainment provided by Bob Hope), and the customary exchange of gifts.


Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library/Wikimedia Commons

The Queen presented Betty Ford with a thoughtful gift to mark the American bicentennial: a brooch commissioned from one of her favorite jewelers, Andrew Grima. He made a golden brooch for the occasion that appropriately resembles a firework. It's a lovely brooch, made in a wearable size -- the piece measures 2.75 inches in diameter.


Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library/Wikimedia Commons

Here's a closer look at the center of the brooch, which features the Queen's cypher. In his usual style, Grima scattered diamonds across the brooch's textured gold surface, including five brilliants and five marquis-shaped pave-set diamond elements. Today, the brooch resides in the Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library/Wikimedia Commons

The Queen also brought a little sparkle of her own to the White House for the state dinner that evening, wearing Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik with the Greville Chandelier Earrings and her own Diamond Festoon Necklace.