Last week, we talked about the biggest known brooch from the Greville Bequest, and today, we’ve got a closer look at the smallest: the Greville Scroll Brooch.
The petite diamond and pearl brooch was commissioned by Dame Margaret Greville from Cartier in London in 1929. The platinum jewel has a fairly simple design: a single diamond scroll, punctuated by a trio of pearls, one of which is set as a drop. But there are little touches that remind us that the brooch was made during the Art Deco era, including a pair of horizontal rows of diamonds that hug the sides of the scroll.
Mrs. Greville was famous for her love of pearls. In her biography of Maggie, Pam Burbidge notes that she talked about her pearls frequently, and that the press made comments about their magnificence as well. This particular piece combines the pearls that she loved with the Art Deco style that she grew to favor over the years. As Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) also loved pearls, it’s no surprise that this was one of the pieces from the bequest that she wore personally in the years after the war.
Here’s a good close-up of the brooch, taken in 2016. An even better close image of the brooch is available in The Queen’s Diamonds. Interestingly, Hugh Roberts writes that the brooch was intended to be quite versatile, worn either with the pearl drop facing upward or downward. However, both the Queen Mother and the present Queen have always worn it with the pearl drop facing up.
The Queen Mother generally favored much larger brooches—and especially loved pieces with chain or pendant sections. This brooch doesn’t fit with that general design aesthetic, but the Queen Mum still wore it, pinning it to her jackets and even her hats. At the end of her long life, she particularly liked to wear the brooch for gala occasions, adding a little extra sparkle to her ensembles for visits to the theater. Here, she wears the small jewel pinned to a bright green evening gown to watch the Kirov Ballet perform at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden on her 100th birthday in August 2000. She’s also wearing two more pieces of Greville jewelry: the Diamond Peardrop Earrings and the Diamond Festoon Necklace.
The Queen inherited the brooch in 2002, and one of her first appearances in the jewel came almost a decade later. She wore the piece twice during her October 2011 royal tour of Australia. (It was a choice with historical echoes: the Queen Mother also notably wore the brooch during her 1958 visit to the same country.) The first outing came during a tree planting ceremony on the grounds of Government House in Canberra.
Later in the trip, she wore the brooch for a state reception at Government House in Perth. The pearls glowed almost like pale aquamarines against the bright blue of the Queen’s jacket on that occasion.
In June 2013, the Queen wore the brooch with a bright floral dress as she presented the Order of New Zealand to the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace.
Here’s a better view of the brooch during the presentation. As is so often the case with small brooches, this one disappears a bit against any bright printed fabric.
To my mind, the Queen’s most successful outing in the brooch to date took place in March 2016. She wore the jewel as she opened a new exhibit, “The Land Of The Lions,” at the London Zoo. The brooch looked lovely pinned to the sweeping neckline of the Queen’s jacket, and the vintage lines of her hat also coordinated beautifully with the jewel.