The Queen’s jewelry box contains numerous pieces of jewelry gifted by friends and relatives. Today, on the day of her accession, it seems particularly appropriate to discuss a set of beautiful diamond and sapphire jewels given to the Queen by someone very important indeed: her father, King George VI of the United Kingdom.
Today, we’re looking at the way that the Queen wore these sentimental sapphires during a state visit from President Xi Jinping of China and his wife, Peng Liyuan, to Britain in October 2015.
On the first evening of President Xi’s visit, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh hosted a grand state banquet for the presidential couple at Buckingham Palace in London.
For the banquet, the Queen wore one of her signature white evening gowns. This particular dress features a lovely sheer overlay adorned with crystals and pearls in a lattice pattern. The dress also has a sparkly silver belt, and the Queen wore coordinating silver shoes and a silver handbag with the ensemble. She also pinned three decorations to the gown: the Royal Family Orders of her father and grandfather, and the sash and star of the Order of the Garter.
The Queen echoed the blue of the Garter sash with her jewels. She selected her married parure of diamonds and sapphires, which includes a tiara, a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a bracelet. She acquired the sapphires in stages. The necklace and earrings were a wedding gift from her beloved father, King George VI, in November 1947. The jewels were antique, dating to the Victorian era.
Later, the Queen acquired a diamond and sapphire necklace, formerly the property of a Belgian princess, to add to the set. She had the necklace set on a tiara frame in the early 1960s, making the suite into a more complete parure. She also had the necklace altered slightly, and she commissioned a bracelet to complete the set. (You can see the silhouette of the bracelet under her glove on her right wrist in this image.)
The Queen also frequently pairs the sapphires with other sapphire and diamond jewels from her collection. On this occasion, she secured her Garter sash with the fabulous Russian Sapphire Cluster Brooch, a diamond, sapphire, and gold jewel acquired by Queen Mary from the estate of Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia. You can see the top portion of the brooch peeking over the Queen’s shoulder in this photograph from the banquet.