Queen Elizabeth II’s jewelry collection contains some impressive heirloom pieces set with rubies, as well as more modern ruby jewels. Today’s suite, the Qatari Rubies, definitely falls into the latter category.
The set arrived in the Queen’s jewelry box in the mid 1980s. Leslie Field notes, “As recently as 1985, on a State visit to England, the Amir of Qatar presented the Queen with a diamond swag necklace with a centerpiece of two large rubies.” The Amir of Qatar in question is Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, who served in that role from 1972 to 1995. The necklace was accompanied by a coordinating pair of earrings.
The Queen began wearing the demi-parure, which features cabochon rubies placed among diamond floral and festoon motifs in a yellow gold setting, shortly after she received the gift. Above, she wears the set in Madrid in 1988, pairing it with one of Queen Victoria’s Wheat Ear Brooches (worn as a hair ornament) and an interesting ruby and diamond bracelet.
In June 1992, she brought the rubies with her on a state visit to France. She wore them with the Burmese Ruby Tiara and her Art Deco-style ruby and diamond bracelet for a dinner at the Élysée Palace in Paris during the trip.
Interestingly, the Queen has chosen to wear the ruby set on two occasions for the State Opening of Parliament. Here, she wears the rubies for the event in November 1990…
…and here, she wears them as she delivers her speech from the throne during the State Opening in November 1994.
The Queen’s most prominent recent appearances in the suite took place during gala occasions about a decade ago. She paired the rubies with Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik for a state banquet in May 2008 during her state visit to Turkey.
And during the President of India’s state visit to Britain in October 2009, she wore the rubies with the Burmese Ruby Tiara for a state banquet at Windsor Castle. She also wore the top portion of Queen Mary’s Richmond Brooch for the dinner, which I’ve always thought was a curious pairing with the more modern ruby jewels.