08 July 2018

The Grima Ruby Brooch

Queen Elizabeth II tours the Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey, 8 June 2018 (KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/AFP/Getty Images)

Many of the Queen's brooches are traditional pieces, inherited from generations past. But there are an increasing number of modern pieces in her collection. Today, we're looking at one of these newer brooches: the Grima Ruby Brooch.

Queen Elizabeth II hosts President Santos of Colombia for a state visit at Buckingham Palace, 1 November 2016 (John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The brooch is both an example of design from the Queen's reign and a sentimental bauble: it was given to her in 1966 by the Duke of Edinburgh. The piece consists of rubies and diamonds set in yellow gold. The brooch fits with the modern aesthetic that the Duke has tended to favor in his jewelry purchases and commissions.

Queen Elizabeth II visits the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre at Imjin Barracks in Gloucestershire, 5 November 2015 (Richard Pohle - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The brooch was, as the name suggests, made by jeweler Andrew Grima. Born in Italy and raised in England, Grima's pieces were striking examples of mid-century modern design. And the family also had another link to royal jewelry: Grima's wife, Jojo, was the granddaughter of Sir Thomas Cullinan -- yes, that Cullinan. Grima's daughter, Francesca, runs the firm today. The royals have been good Grima customers: other members of the family, including Princess Anne and Princess Margaret, have also worn his pieces. (And, as we discussed previously, he also made an important American commission for the Queen.)

Queen Elizabeth II visits Trinity College, Dublin during the Irish state visit, 17 May 2011 (John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)

The Queen has worn the brooch regularly throughout her reign, including appearances during her annual Christmas Broadcast. And in 2011, she chose the brooch for one of the most important diplomatic events of her reign: her landmark state visit to Ireland.

Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post, with new text/images.