Really, is there anything better than a classic pair of diamond drop earrings? Well, maybe Art Deco diamond drops with massive wattage from the Greville Bequest…
Dame Margaret Greville loved an unusual diamond cut, and these earrings feature some of those lesser-seen stones. Maggie approached the good people at Cartier in London in the spring of 1938 and asked them to source a pair of classic diamond drop earrings for her collection. It was a heady time—post-coronation, pre-war—and Mrs. Greville was undoubtedly reveling in her close connection to the new King and Queen. Time for plenty of new gala jewels! The earring purchase took place, for example, at the same time as the renovation of the Diamond Festoon Necklace.
Cartier came through. They turned to their New York branch to find the perfect pair of earrings, landing on this pair, which Hugh Roberts describes in The Queen’s Diamonds as “spectacular,” with “especially fine drops.” The stud portion of each platinum earring features a rare pentagonal diamond, from which an elongated emerald-cut diamond is suspended. Finally, the pear-shaped drops: one weighing in at 20.66 carats, and the other at 20.26 carats. (Sisters, not twins!) The finished earrings were delivered to Mrs. Greville in May 1938.
Mrs. Greville passed away a little more than four years later, and the earrings were among the unbelievable treasures that she bequeathed to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother). At first, Elizabeth didn’t have a whole lot of use for the earrings—after all, she’d just inherited the use of the very similar Coronation Earrings a few years earlier. But after the death of King George VI and the accession of Queen Elizabeth II, the Coronation Earrings passed to her daughter, and the Greville Peardrop Earrings became her go-to diamond drops. Here, she wears them in a 1957 portrait, paired with the Greville Tiara, Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace, and Queen Victoria’s Fringe Brooch.
Indeed, the Queen Mother wore the earrings for gala occasions throughout her life. Here, she wears them to cut a cake during a Women’s Institute celebration in November 1960, paired again with the Greville Tiara and Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace, as well as her Silver Anniversary Flower Brooch.
She wears the earrings with the Greville Tiara, Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace, and Queen Victoria’s Fringe Brooch in this striking photograph, taken in November 1964. (That’s Princess Marina sparkling in the shadows behind her, wearing her Russian Pearl Bandeau.) This photograph gives you a good look at the Art Deco-influenced diamond cuts of the earrings.
Toward the end of her life, the peardrop earrings remained mainstays in the Queen Mother’s gala jewelry wardrobe. She pairs them with the Greville Tiara and the Greville Festoon Necklace in this photograph, taken during the German state visit to Britain in December 1998.
One of her very final appearances in the earrings took place in August 2001, when she wore them with the Diamond Festoon Necklace and the Centenary Rose Brooch for a trip to the ballet to celebrate her 101st birthday.
When the Queen Mother died in 2002, the earrings were inherited by her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. While the Queen has passed along many of the other grand jewels (including the Greville Tiara and the Greville Festoon Necklace) as loans to the Duchess of Cornwall, she’s kept the peardrops in her own jewelry collection. Roberts notes that the Queen has worn them “on a number of formal occasions,” the most prominent being a banquet during the Turkish state visit to Britain in November 2011, when she wore them with the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, the Coronation Necklace, and Queen Victoria’s Fringe Brooch.
You’d be forgiven if you did a double take when seeing these photographs. The Queen rarely wears the Coronation Necklace with anything other than the Coronation Earrings, and the size and shape of the two earring pairs are so similar that they’re easily mistaken from a distance. But up close, the pentagonal and emerald diamonds are easy to spot.