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We’re celebrating June’s birthstone, the mighty pearl, all week here on The Court Jeweller, and today, we’re counting down the best pearl brooches owned by one of the biggest royal jewel collectors of all, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Here’s my list of the Queen’s top ten pearl brooches — let us know your top ten lists in the comments below!
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10. The Greville Scroll Brooch: This petite diamond and pearl scroll brooch was a part of the bequest from Mrs. Greville to the Queen Mother in 1942. Mrs. Greville commissioned the Art Deco brooch from Cartier in 1929. The Queen inherited it from her mother in 2002, and she wears it occasionally now — usually upside down, with the drop pearl pointing upward!
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9. The Kensington Bow Brooch: The Queen owns numerous diamond bow brooches, but this large ribbon brooch also features a pear-shaped pearl pendant. It was one of Queen Mary’s wedding presents, made by Collingwood in 1893 and given to her by the people of Kensington the same year. Mary wore the diamond, pearl, silver, and gold brooch at her coronation in 1911, and she bequeathed it to her granddaughter in 1953. The Queen has worn it often throughout her reign, frequently pinning it to her sash during gala events.
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8. The Pearl Triangle Brooch: We don’t know the precise provenance of this brooch, which Leslie Field describes as “an unusual long narrow diamond triangle with two pearls and a canary yellow diamond set in the middle.” But we know that she chose the brooch for one of the most crucial moments of her reign: her televised speech following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. She also chooses this brooch occasionally for more casual daytime engagements.
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7. The Richmond Brooch: Another jewel from Queen Mary’s collection, this large, elaborate diamond brooch features a central pearl and a removable pearl drop. Mary received the brooch, which was made by Hunt and Roskell as a wedding present from the people of Richmond in 1893. The Queen inherited it from her grandmother in 1953, and she’s been wearing it ever since, often to secure her order sashes on gala occasions. (Read more about the brooch here!)
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6. The Pearl Trefoil Brooch: This brooch is one of the workhorses of the Queen’s collection; she wears it regularly for daytime engagements, and it also pops up for events like her annual Christmas broadcast and Easter services at Windsor. Leslie Field notes that it first appeared on the Queen in the 1980s, describing the piece as “a large diamond quatrefoil set with pearls having a pearl and diamond cluster in the centre.” But the brooch is definitely a trefoil, with two ribbon scrolls at the base.
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5. The Emperor of Austria Brooch: Another brooch inherited from Queen Mary, this complicated diamond and pearl cluster brooch has a removable pendant chain with three pear-shaped pearls. It was given to Mary’s mother, the Duchess of Teck, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria; it was a present honoring her decision to name him as godfather to her son, Prince Francis of Teck, in 1870. Lately, the Queen’s been sneaking this into her gala attire sans pendant chain, wearing it on her back to secure her order sashes.
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4. Queen Victoria’s Pearl and Diamond Brooch: This diamond brooch is studded with eight pearls and features three more pearls as pendants. It originally belonged to Queen Victoria, who designated it as one of the British heirlooms of the crown. The brooch was a favorite of the late Queen Mother, and it was one of the pieces that she kept in her jewelry box until her death in 2002. Her daughter, the Queen, has begun wearing the piece regularly since.
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3. The Duchess of Cambridge’s Brooch: One of the oldest brooches in the Queen’s collection, this pearl and diamond cluster brooch has a large, removable pearl pendant. It belonged to Queen Mary’s grandmother, Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge. Queen Mary chose it to mark two very important family events — the christenings of the current Queen in 1926 and the current Prince of Wales in 1948. The Queen inherited the brooch in 1953, and she’s been wearing it regularly, both with and without the pendant, ever since.
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2. Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Brooch: Queen Victoria was delighted by this diamond and pearl brooch, a present from her household in honor of her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. She liked it so much that she designated it an Heirloom of the Crown, which means it passes from monarch to monarch. It became a particular favorite of the Queen Mother; the Queen let her keep it in her collection even after the death of George VI. The Queen took possession of the brooch in 2002, after her mother’s death, and she wears it occasionally on gala evenings now.
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1. Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Gift Parure Brooch: A triple cluster of diamonds and pearls and a trio of diamond pearl pendants, this brooch was a part of the parure of jewels presented to Queen Alexandra as a wedding gift from her husband, King Edward VII, in 1863. The jewels were made by Garrard. Queen Mary inherited the set’s necklace, earrings, and brooch, and she bequeathed the earrings and the brooch to the Queen in 1953. (The necklace was given to the Queen Mum, so it’s now in the Queen’s collection, too.)