All week, we’ve been paying tribute to the incredible royal jewels of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who died twenty years ago yesterday. Today, we’re covering some of the royal necklaces she wore—and which are still being worn by royal ladies in Britain today.
Queen Alexandra presented this pearl, diamond, and amethyst necklace to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon as a wedding gift in 1923. Two years later, Elizabeth wore it during the mourning period after Alexandra’s death two years later. (There are no pictures of her wearing it during this period, as very few photographs were taken of the family while they mourned the late queen consort.) Nearly a century later, in October 2012, the Duchess of Cornwall wore a reconfigured version of the necklace for the premiere of Skyfall.
The Queen Mother was the custodian, not the owner, of this necklace from 1936 until 1952. Garrard made the classic diamond necklace for Queen Victoria in 1858 to replace a necklace that had been lost in the Hanoverian Claim. The necklace incorporates the pear-shaped Lahore Diamond as a pendant. Later designated as an Heirloom of the Crown, the necklace has been worn by subsequent British queens at their coronations. After the death of King George VI, the Queen Mother handed the necklace over to Queen Elizabeth II, who wore it for her coronation in 1953. The Queen has continued to wear it often in the years since, for state banquets and important ceremonies like the State Opening of Parliament.
This dazzling diamond rivière was presented to Elizabeth by King George VI just before their coronation in 1937. The necklace was made in the nineteenth century, probably by Carrington. She often paired the necklace with Queen Victoria’s coronation necklace. Today, the Queen Mother’s Coronation Necklace is worn by the Duchess of Cornwall.
This necklace, which was acquired from Garrard in the 1850s by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, is part of a demi-parure of jewels that was originally set with diamonds and opals. The pieces were purchased to coordinate with Queen Victoria’s Indian Circlet, which was also originally set with opals instead of rubies. At the dawn of the twentieth century, Queen Alexandra had the opals in the necklace replaced with large rubies. The necklace was a great favorite of the Queen Mother, who wore it regularly until her death. Today, it’s worn by the Queen.
In 1863, the Prince of Wales ordered this diamond and pearl necklace from Garrard, plus its coordinating parure, as a wedding present for his bride, Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Alexandra wore the necklace, with its button-style pearl and diamond clusters and pear-shaped pearl pendants, on their wedding day. In 1925, Queen Mary inherited the necklace, and she later passed it on to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. It became one of her very favorite royal jewels. Now owned by the Queen, the necklace was most recently worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.
This spectacular diamond and platinum necklace comes from the collection of Dame Margaret Greville. Originally made as a two-row necklace by Cartier in the 1920s, she had three more rows added to the piece in 1938. Dame Margaret bequeathed the spectacular five-row necklace to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) in 1942. She wore it often, both in its full setting and in a smaller three-row version, throughout her long life. Today, the necklace is worn by the Duchess of Cornwall. The Queen Mother also loved an emerald and diamond necklace from the Greville collection, but that one has yet to be worn by a current royal (though a second emerald necklace has been).
Three-Stranded Pearl Necklace
The Queen Mother was famous for her love of pearls, and her collection included numerous pearl necklaces. They’re often difficult to tell apart, especially when their clasps are not visible. One of her lovely three-stranded pearl necklaces, which has a diamond clasp with an Art Deco design, is now worn by the Duchess of Cornwall. Delightfully, Camilla likes to showcase the piece’s clasp by wearing it placed to the side or the front.