01 April 2021

95 Years, 95 Jewels: Part 8 (March 1953)

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Only months before Queen Elizabeth II was due to be crowned, her grandmother, Queen Mary, passed away. The coronation went ahead, per Mary's specific instructions, and the Queen inherited an incredible jewelry windfall from her. This post (and the next two!) will all feature jewels that arrived in the Queen's collection after Queen Mary's death in March 1953.

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This stunning diamond tiara was made in 1888 as Alexandra's silver wedding gift from a committee of aristocratic women; its design was inspired by a Russian kokoshnik-style tiara worn by her sister, Empress Marie Feodorovna. Alexandra bequeathed it to her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary, who in turn left it to Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen has worn the kokoshnik regularly throughout her entire reign. Above, the Queen wears the tiara in Hobart in 1954.

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In 1863, the Prince of Wales presented his new bride, Alexandra of Denmark, with a parure of diamond and pearl jewelry as a wedding gift. The set was made by Garrard the previous year, and it included these cluster earrings, plus a brooch (which we'll discuss in a moment), a necklace (which we will discuss later, for reasons you'll understand then), and a tiara (which was inherited by Alexandra's daughter, Victoria, and "subsequently disposed of by her," according to Hugh Roberts). Mary inherited the earrings in 1925 and bequeathed them to her granddaughter in 1953. Above, the Queen wears the earrings at the annual Festival of Remembrance in November 2018.

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These elaborate diamond and pearl earrings originally belonged to Queen Mary's great-aunt, Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester. They originally had more elaborate cluster tops; those were removed, and they were given by Mary to Elizabeth in 1947 just before she embarked on her trip to Africa with her parents. The pendant earrings were inherited by Elizabeth in 1953, and she frequently pairs them with Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Necklace, which features a similarly elaborate diamond pattern, and the pearl setting of the Vladimir Tiara. In the image above, the Queen wears the earrings at the State Opening of Parliament in June 2001.

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This diamond and pearl brooch, made by Garrard, originally belonged to Queen Mary's grandmother, the Duchess of Cambridge. The brooch was inherited by Mary's mother, the Duchess of Teck; she bequeathed it to Mary in 1897. Mary chose to wear the brooch at the 1926 christening of Princess Elizabeth, so it's no surprise that she also decided to bequeath the brooch to Elizabeth in 1953. The Queen wears this classic brooch very frequently, both with and without the detachable pearl pendant. The Queen chose the brooch for her official 50th birthday portraits, one of which is pictured above, taken in April 1976.

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Part of the parure given to Alexandra by her new husband in 1863, this diamond and pearl brooch was made by Garrard. Alexandra wore the brooch (as well as the parure's necklace and earrings) on her wedding day. The brooch features three detachable pearl and diamond pendants, and the Queen has worn it both with and without the pendants since inheriting it from Queen Mary in 1953. Above, the Queen uses the brooch to secure her poppies at the Festival of Remembrance in 2015.

We've got a dazzling earring tonight and more sparkling jewels tomorrow!