21 July 2019

Princess Margaret's Ruby and Diamond Flower Brooch

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July is the month for rubies, and one of the biggest royal ruby collectors of all was Princess Margaret. Today, we've got a look at one of her favorite pieces featuring the bright red gem: her Ruby and Diamond Flower Brooch.


The brooch was made in London in 1948 by Cartier. Christie's lot notes from a later auction describe the piece as having "curved openwork old and single-cut diamond petals and stem" and an "oval ruby stamen and leaf decoration." According to the auction notes, the piece was originally made as a clip brooch, but was later converted to a "pin-fitting" brooch. The original Cartier signature was lost when the clip was removed, but the brooch was securely housed in its original Cartier red leather box.

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Margaret wore the brooch essentially for her entire adult life. Here, she's wearing it with pearls at the Epsom Derby in May 1955.

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While she often wore the flower brooch for daytime occasions, she sometimes used it as an evening jewel as well. Here, at the London premiere of Doctor Zhivago in April 1966, she wore it with several other ruby and diamond pieces, including her girandole earrings, two bracelets, and her ruby and diamond engagement ring.

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She paired the brooch and the girandole earrings again in November 1972 for the Royal European Preview of the musical Applause in London.

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This is probably my favorite photograph of Margaret wearing the brooch, however. (The rubies! The shades! The HAT!) This was taken in July 1991, when she was on a visit to Kew Gardens in London. Fifteen years later, when jewels from Margaret's estate were sold at Christie's, the brooch was estimated to fetch between 10,000 and 15,000 pounds. When the hammer fell, it sold for much, much more -- 108,000 pounds, to be exact.