We’ve discussed all three of the Royal Collection exhibitions currently running at royal residences across Britain. Today, we’ve got a closer look at some of the most important jewels on display right now at Windsor Castle: the Coronation Diamonds.
The Coronation Necklace and Earrings are part of the Royal Collection Trust’s Platinum Jubilee Exhibition at Windsor Castle. The exhibition showcases the Queen’s coronation gown and robes, as well as lots of sparkling jewels from her collection. The Coronation Diamonds are on display in the castle’s Lantern Lobby.
The necklace and earrings have been part of the British royal collection since 1858. They were made to replace a similar necklace and earrings from Queen Victoria’s collection that were lost in the Hanoverian Claim. (Long story short: in the 1830s, King Ernst August of Hanover, Victoria’s uncle, filed suit to claim jewels that once belonged to his mother, Queen Charlotte. After two decades of legal wrangling, the courts granted a large number of those jewels to the Hanoverians. Queen Victoria was crushed to lose a number of the jewels that she wore regularly and considered her own.) In the portrait above, which dates to 1882, Victoria wears the new diamond necklace and earrings, plus her small diamond crown and the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, mounted as a brooch.
Garrard made the replacement necklace for Queen Victoria in 1858, using diamonds removed from a Garter badge and the hilt of a ceremonial sword. Additionally, the pear-shaped Lahore Diamond was removed from the Timur Ruby Necklace and set as the pendant of this new diamond necklace. Coordinating earrings were made at the same time, and the pendant drops used were originally a part of the armlet setting of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond.
Here’s a photograph from the current exhibition that shows a curator’s hand for size. The largest diamonds in the necklace weigh in at around 11 carats. The Lahore Diamond measures at around 22 carats.
Here’s an unusual angle that shows off the collet settings of the necklace’s diamonds. Queen Victoria designated the necklace and its coordinating earrings as Heirlooms of the Crown in her will. Since then, each British queen, regnant or consort, has worn parts of the necklace/earring combination on their coronation days: Queen Alexandra in 1902, Queen Mary in 1911, Queen Elizabeth in 1937, and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Here’s another look at the earrings and the necklace as currently displayed in the Lantern Lobby.
Queen Elizabeth II wears the earrings and the necklace (with the Imperial State Crown and her Coronation Armills) in this famous Cecil Beaton portrait taken on her Coronation Day in June 1953. The portrait is displayed near the jewels in the Windsor Castle exhibition, underlining the connection between the sparkling jewels and the coronation, almost seven decades later.