Queen Elizabeth II has an extensive collection of brooches set with aquamarines. Among them are these intriguing clip brooches, which she inherited from the late Queen Mother.
The Queen Mother’s collection included several ’30s-era jewels set with diamonds and aquamarines. These Art Deco-style pieces included the Aquamarine Pineflower Tiara (now worn by the Princess Royal) and the Aquamarine Art Deco Brooch (now worn by the Queen). Elizabeth also owned this matched pair of diamond and aquamarine dress clips, with a curving design.
According to Leslie Field, these aquamarine clips arrived in Elizabeth’s collection in the 1930s, when she was still Duchess of York. In The Queen’s Jewels, Field writes, “In the 1930s she had a pair of curved diamond and aquamarine clips. She was wearing these in 1935 when she brought her two daughters to Norman Hartnell’s salon in Bruton Street to have a fitting for their bridesmaid’s dresses for the marriage of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester.”
Elizabeth continued to wear the clip brooches after becoming queen consort in 1936. Above, she wears them pinned to a formal day dress for a garden party given by the philanthropist Constance Goetze in Regent’s Park in July 1939.
Here’s a closer view of Queen Elizabeth wearing the clips at the garden party. You’ll spot one on either side of the neckline of her dress.
She continued to wear the clips even after war broke out in Europe a few weeks later. Here, she wears one of the clips on her hat as she visits Stepney in April 1941, while touring parts of East London damaged during the Blitz. She’s also wearing the Aquamarine Art Deco Brooch on her coat; she often paired the clips and the brooch together.
Why would she wear multiple jewels when meeting with those who had suffered during the air raids? Queen Elizabeth famously decided to dress in her best clothes and jewelry to visit survivors of bombings throughout the Blitz, reasoning that they would do the same for her if they visited her home. Her attire became both a sign of normalcy and a gesture of respect. Her official biographer, William Shawcross, described her wartime fashion strategy as “gentle ostentation,” intended to respectfully encourage and brighten the days of those she visited in houses, factories, and barracks.
After the war, and after the death of her husband, the widowed Queen Mother continued to wear the clips for several years. Here, she’s wearing one pinned to her hat as she presents a trophy during the Badminton Horse Trials in April 1954. She’s wearing the Aquamarine Art Deco Brooch on her lapel as well.
In 1954, the Queen Mother was the subject of a photoshoot in Windsor, where she was joined by her grandchildren, Prince Charles and Princess Anne (shown with her here, playing with a xylophone). The Queen Mum wore both clip brooches on her dress during the photo session.
After the 1950s, though, it was rare to see the Queen Mother wearing the dress clips. They fell out of fashion, and the Queen Mum increasingly preferred to wear larger brooches like Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Brooch or her Modern Emerald Floral Brooch.
The Queen inherited the brooches from her mother in 2002. She’s worn them a few times since then, always together as a pair. Here, she wears them with a gold and blue floral suit for a reception held for the Royal Life Saving Society at Buckingham Palace in November 2016.
And here, she wears the brooches with a light blue outfit for a morning church service on Christmas Eve near the Sandringham estate in December 2017.