26 February 2021

Queen Mary's Chain-Link Bracelets


Queen Elizabeth II's gala jewelry uniform includes several specific pieces: a tiara, a necklace, a pair of earrings, a brooch, an evening watch, and a bracelet. She rotates several bracelets from her collection, and one of the largest and easiest to recognize is Queen Mary's Chain-Link Bracelet, which is part of a matched pair.

World History Archive/Alamy

The bracelets were made by Garrard for Queen Mary and were constructed in stages over a three-year period. The first bracelet, described by Hugh Roberts in The Queen's Diamonds as having "a subdued modernist design," was made in 1932. Two years later, the firm constructed a diamond brooch set with a 9 3/4 carat diamond sourced from the Premier Mine in South Africa. The brilliant had been presented to Mary in June 1933, according to Roberts, by the Diamond Industry of South Africa during the opening of South Africa House in Trafalgar Square. 

The following year, in 1935, Garrard made the second bracelet to match the first. The only slight difference in their design is the inclusion of the 1933 brooch as part of the second bracelet. Queen Mary wore the jewels both as separate bracelets and joined together as a choker necklace. She wears them in their necklace form above, during a balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace during the Silver Jubilee celebrations in May 1935. The large plaque containing the biggest brilliant is placed over her throat.

The Queen's Diamonds features a large, detailed photograph of the bracelets linked together to form the necklace. Interestingly, the entry on the bracelets also includes one of the only major errors in Roberts's book. He includes an image of Mary wearing a diamond choker necklace, but it's not the Chain-Link Bracelet Choker; instead, it's the choker necklace made from the diamond bracelet now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.

Wikimedia Commons

Queen Elizabeth II inherited the bracelets from her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1953. From the early years of her reign, she has incorporated the bracelets into her gala uniform. She generally wears them one at a time, almost always on her right wrist. Above, she pairs one of the bracelets with the Vladimir Tiara and Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Necklace for a formal portrait taken in 1959.

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In May 1957, she had worn the same combination of jewels, plus the Gloucester Pendant Earrings and the Kensington Bow Brooch, for a state banquet during her visit to Denmark.

CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images

She continues to wear one of the bracelets on her right wrist often today. Above, she wears one for the Order of the Bath service at Westminster Abbey in May 2006.

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Also in May 2006, she wore one of the bracelets for a state dinner at the White House in Washington, D.C., during her American visit.

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In July 2010, she paired one of the bracelets with additional diamond pieces, including the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara and the Greville Chandelier Earrings, for a dinner at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. She also wore Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Brooch for the occasion.

Julian Calder for Governor-General of New Zealand/Wikimedia Commons

You'll spot one of the bracelets on her right wrist in this Diamond Jubilee portrait, taken by Julian Calder for the New Zealand government, in 2011. (She's also wearing Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, the City of London Fringe Necklace, and the New Zealand Silver Fern Brooch.)

Oli Scarff - WPA Pool/Getty Images

These days, you're most likely to spot the bracelet on the Queen at formal events like the State Opening of Parliament (including the appearance above from 2012) or state banquets.