27 May 2019

The Greville Emeralds

The Queen Mother visits the Tate Gallery with Sir John Rothenstein, the gallery's director, April 1963 (Terry Disney/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Many of you will be familiar with the grand Cambridge emerald jewels worn by the British royal family, but did you know that the Windsors have yet another suite of fantastic emeralds? Today, we've got a closer look at the Greville Emerald Necklace and Earrings.

The Queen Mother attends a gala performance given in honor of King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola of Belgium at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, May 1963 (CENTRAL PRESS PHOTO/AFP/Getty Images)

The necklace and earrings originally belonged to a British heiress, the Dame Margaret Greville. It's not clear precisely when they were made (or how many times Mrs. Greville had them remodeled), but by the time they were bequeathed to the Queen Mother in 1942, the necklace consisted of several square-cut emeralds set in diamond clusters, and the earrings featured large pear-shaped cabochon emeralds suspended from diamond studs. The Queen Mother often paired them with another jewel from the bequest, the Greville Tiara (more here!), but she also wore the emeralds with Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara (more here!) and, on at least one occasion, the Teck Crescent Tiara (more here!).

The Queen Mother visits the Tate Gallery in London, April 1963 (Terry Disney/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

She also often wore the emeralds for gala events that didn't require tiaras, including a visit to the Tate Gallery in 1963. (On this occasion, I believe you'll also spot the diamond quatrefoil bracelet now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge on the Queen Mum's left wrist.) Many black-and-white photographs obscure the details of the earrings, with their dark emerald drops, but this one nicely shows the shape of the jewels.

The Queen Mother and Prince William of Gloucester attend a dinner at the Carpenters' Hall in London during the state visit of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, April 1972 (PA Images/Alamy)

The emeralds were one of the Queen Mum's go-to suites of jewels for state occasions as well. Here, she wears them with the Greville Tiara and Queen Victoria's Diamond Fringe Brooch (more here!) during the Dutch state visit in 1972.

The Queen Mother attends a dinner at the Carpenters' Hall in London during the state visit of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, April 1972 (AFP/Getty Images)

This color photo from the same dinner shows a bit of the green of the emeralds, as well as the fact that the Queen Mum paired them with a green dress for the occasion.

The Queen Mother attends a gala performance of Carmen at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, July 1973 (Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy)

You also get just a hint of color, and a better look at the shape and design of the necklace, in this photo, taken at a special gala performance of Carmen in London in 1973.


The last person to wear the emerald necklace and earrings in public was the late Queen Mother, and it's been decades since we've seen them. But if the last year taught us anything, it's that the British royal jewelry vaults are tremendously large and contain numerous pieces of jewelry that haven't been worn publicly in years.

In October 2018, another of the Greville emerald pieces -- the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik -- was worn by Princess Eugenie for her wedding. It was the first time a member of the British royal family had ever worn that jewel in public. So I have hope that many other pieces of jewelry, including the Greville Emerald Necklace and Earrings, are simply waiting to be brought out into the light once more. (Paging Camilla, Kate, and Meghan!)