Queen Mary is perhaps most associated with pearls and emeralds, but her royal jewelry collection also included numerous gorgeous pieces set with blue sapphires. Today, we’ve got a look at some of them, including some spectacular brooches, tiaras, and necklaces.
One of Mary’s first major sapphire jewels was this geometric piece. The brooch, which is set with a large diamond and a sugarloaf sapphire, was Mary’s wedding gift from her new husband’s Romanov aunt, Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia, in the summer of 1893. She liked to wear the brooch pinned horizontally. In 1953, she bequeathed it to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, who still wears it often (but usually vertically!).
When Mary’s husband became king in 1910, they inherited a collection of jewels known as “heirlooms of the crown.” Among these pieces, which are earmarked for the use of the queen (regnant or consort), was Prince Albert’s Brooch. The diamond and sapphire cluster was presented to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert on the night before their royal wedding in 1840. It’s been worn by each British queen since. Above, Queen Mary wears it for an official photograph taken in July 1911.
Queen Mary commissioned this classic diamond tiara herself, ordering it from Garrard in 1914. The newly-constructed tiara used some of the leftover diamonds taken from the dismantled County of Surrey Tiara. One of the three original center ornaments of the tiara was this sapphire and diamond piece, which was also able to be worn as a brooch (and later used with the Sunray Bandeau). Today, the tiara belongs to the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
In 1916, Queen Mary inherited this suite of sapphire and diamond jewels from her aunt, Grand Duchess Augusta of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The parure had originally belonged to Mary’s grandmother, Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge. Mary posed for this official portrait in the 1920s wearing the sapphires, but she didn’t keep them long. In 1934, she offered them to her new daughter-in-law, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, as a wedding present. The family kept them for another generation, but the original tiara from the set (and perhaps more pieces as well) have since been sold at auction by the present Duke and Duchess of Kent.
In 1928, Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia, aunt of King George V, died in exile. Her daughters decided to sell a great number of her jewels, and Queen Mary was one of the documented purchasers of pieces from the estate. In 1930, she bought this diamond and sapphire cluster brooch, which has a lovely pearl pendant. Above, Mary wears it with the pendant in 1938. Queen Elizabeth II inherited the brooch in 1953, and she continues to wear it occasionally, both with and without the pendant.
According to royal jewelry historian Leslie Field, Queen Mary also purchased this bandeau-style tiara from the estate of the late Empress Marie Feodorovna. She wore it with a diamond and sapphire center ornament (also used with her honeysuckle tiara), and occasionally swapped that out for the carved emerald brooch from the Delhi Durbar Parure. Field writes that the Queen Mother inherited the tiara. It was worn most recently by Princess Margaret, who also wore the sapphire center element separately as a brooch.
Queen Mary’s purchases from the estate of Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia also included this pearl and diamond choker necklace, which has a distinctive diamond and sapphire clasp. It’s beautiful and versatile: it’s also able to be worn as a pair of bracelets. Queen Elizabeth II inherited the necklace, and then later passed it along to its current wearer, the Princess Royal.
The final sapphire that we’ll highlight today from Queen Mary’s collection is yet another Romanov piece. Queen Mary reportedly purchased this gorgeous sapphire cluster brooch, which is ringed with diamonds and a beautiful border of gold filigree, from Empress Marie Feodorovna’s daughters in 1934. It later became a favorite jewel of the Queen Mother, and in recent years, it’s been worn on occasion by Queen Elizabeth II.