Today, the Countess of Wessex celebrates her birthday. To mark the occasion, we’ve got a roundup of the royal jewels that Sophie has been loaned during her two decades as a member of the royal family.
Sophie’s very first major royal jewel wasn’t a loan from the Queen: it was her wedding tiara, and it was a gift from HM’s private jewelry collection. No official provenance information has ever been released by the palace, but many believe that the tiara was made using an alternate set of anthemion ornaments from Queen Victoria’s Regal Circlet (worn above by Victoria in an 1856 portrait by Winterhalter). Though Victoria was never pictured wearing the diadem with the anthemions, the circlet’s case includes spaces for the ornaments, suggesting that they were a little-used secondary setting of the piece.
The Countess wore the tiara on her wedding day in 1999 (pictured above), and she’s worn it for numerous gala events since then. In 2019, the year of her twentieth wedding anniversary, the tiara was redesigned slightly, bringing the elements together more tightly and adding a more substantial base. You can see the renovated version of the tiara in the images below.
For the American state banquet in 2019, Sophie (pictured above) wore her newly-redesigned wedding tiara with a suite of jewels loaned to her by the Queen. The necklace and earrings feature clustered pear-shaped diamonds. The Queen wore the set in public for the first time in 1987, for a dinner at Claridge’s during a state visit from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. Many have naturally guessed that the jewels were a gift from King Fahd, though that provenance has never been confirmed.
The Queen has worn the jewels often. In the photograph above, she wears them at the Royal Variety Performance in Cardiff in November 2005. She’s also loaned them to both Sophie and to the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore the earrings for the Diplomatic Reception in December 2019.
The Queen’s most famous aquamarine tiara is undoubtedly the Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara, but she also owns a second, smaller tiara set with diamonds and aquamarines. The piece features five large aquamarines surrounded by diamond ribbons. The Queen has only worn it in public once: during an appearance in Yellowknife (pictured above) during the royal tour of Canada in July 1970. On that occasion, she wore the tiara with the Coronation Earrings and Necklace (and a fringed jacket).
The Countess of Wessex has worn the tiara several times over the past decade. She debuted the tiara at the pre-wedding gala in Luxembourg in 2012, and she also wore it for the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill in 2013 (pictured above).
The Diamond Circle Pendant Earrings
For the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden in Stockholm in June 2013 (pictured above), Sophie also borrowed more royal jewels. Her diamond earrings come from the Queen’s collection as well. They featured a floral stud from which a diamond circle pendant is suspended. Above, the Queen wears them with a diamond necklace for a return banquet during the Russian state visit in the summer of 2003.
In The Queen’s Jewels, Leslie Field describes the earrings as follows: “In the early 1960s, [the Queen] acquired a new cluster-and-drop necklace and a pair of pendant earrings with detachable pear-shaped ruby drops in diamond collet frames. The rubies can be exchanged for diamond drops.” The Queen has worn the ruby setting of the earrings on previous occasions, and Sophie has also worn the earrings with the diamond drops.
In May 1967, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia traveled to the United Kingdom for a state visit. He brought along a sparkling gift for the Queen: a diamond necklace made by Harry Winston. The Queen has worn the piece on occasion since, including dinner at the British Embassy in Paris during her 1992 state visit to France (pictured above). On that occasion, she paired the necklace with the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara and her Antique Girandole Earrings.
The Queen has loaned this necklace to other ladies in the family more than once. The late Diana, Princess of Wales wore it in 1983 during the royal tour of Australia. And in October 2012, the Countess of Wessex wore it with the Aquamarine Ribbon Tiara for the pre-wedding gala held in Luxembourg.
These classic earrings feature a diamond stud and an elongated pearl drop. The Queen has only worn them rarely. Her most prominent appearance in the earrings came in 1977, when she wore them during her Silver Jubilee celebrations in London. She paired them with the Hanoverian Pearls and the Williamson Pink Diamond Brooch (pictured above).
The Countess of Wessex borrowed the classic earrings for her trip to Luxembourg in October 2012. She wore them both for the wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie and for the pre-wedding gala the night before. More recently, the earrings have been loaned to the Duchess of Cambridge.
In November 1947, the Queen received seven pearls from the Hakim of Bahrain as a wedding present. Two of the pearls were used as drops on a new pair of earrings also set with round and baguette diamonds. The Queen has been wearing them for decades, including a recent appearance at the Festival of Remembrance in November 2015 (pictured above).
The Queen has also loaned them to other family members. The late Diana, Princess of Wales wore them during the Dutch state visit in 1982. Thirty years later, in October 2012, the Countess of Wessex wore them to help celebrate the 200th anniversary of The Rifles. More recently, they’ve been worn frequently by the Duchess of Cambridge.
The Ruby Floret Earrings
In May 2015, Sophie traveled to the Channel Islands to attend the 70th anniversary celebrations of their liberation at the end of World War II. The national colors of Guernsey and Jersey are green and red, respectively, and Sophie paid tribute to both with her outfit. With her green dress, she wore a pair of ruby and diamond earrings borrowed from the Queen.
The Ruby Floret Earrings, says Leslie Field, are “miniature flowers, the rubies edged with a circle of brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds.” The Queen commissioned them using stones from her private collection, and she has often worn them with another of her jewelry commissions, the Burmese Ruby Tiara. Above, during the Dutch state visit in 1982, she wears the tiara and earrings with the Greville Ruby Necklace and Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Brooch.