Tributes to the late Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom have poured in from all corners of the world since her death in September, and now a legendary jewelry house has made their sparkling contribution. Boucheron, maker of one of the Queen’s most famous sets of clip brooches, has created a new collection inspired by those famous aquamarine and diamond jewels, called “Like a Queen.”
The jewelers at Boucheron have crafted a series of pieces inspired by the Queen’s famous aquamarine clip brooches. The collection has made its debut following her recent death, but according to the company, the tribute has been in the works for some time now. “When Princess Elizabeth turned eighteen in 1944, she received a Boucheron aquamarine and diamond double clip brooch. She would continue to wear these sentimental designs throughout her reign,” the Boucheron website explains. “In 2020, Claire Choisne, Creative Director of Boucheron, decided to take inspiration from this unique piece to create a High Jewelry collection reinterpreting the famous Art Deco design through eighteen contemporary new designs. ‘Like a Queen’ draws inspiration from an icon whose style transcended decades.”
Choisne and her team have taken the silhouette of the late Queen’s clip brooches and recreated it across several other pieces of jewelry, including earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and (of course) additional brooches. Like the Queen’s famous rainbow wardrobe, the jewels are set with a range of colorful gemstones—sapphires, emeralds, rubies, and tourmalines.
The original set of clip brooches were acquired from Boucheron by another member of the royal family: the late Queen’s uncle, the Duke of Kent. Jewelry historian Vincent Meylan, who has produced a notable book about Boucheron’s archives, has explained that George bought the aquamarine and diamond clips from Boucheron’s London boutique in July 1937. The brooches may have been a gift for his wife, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, whom he’d married just a few years earlier. To my knowledge, no photographs exist of Marina wearing the clips, though the outbreak of World War II just two years later certainly curtailed her opportunities for glamorous public appearances.
Not quite seven years after the Duke purchased the clips from Boucheron, they were repurposed as a birthday gift for his niece, Princess Elizabeth. On April 11, 1944, shortly before the young princess’s birthday celebrations, Queen Elizabeth wrote to Queen Mary, noting, “I am giving Lilibet a small diamond tiara of my own for her 18th birthday, & Bertie [George VI] is giving her a little bracelet to wear now. It is almost impossible to buy anything good, but he may find something secondhand.” The “something” that King George found was the pair of Boucheron aquamarine clips.
The Duke of Kent, however, wasn’t the one who gave them to his elder brother. He had passed away nearly two years earlier, in August 1942, in a plane crash in Scotland. Instead, Princess Marina would almost certainly have been the one who offered the clips to her brother-in-law. The widowed Duchess of Kent was reportedly quite fond of her teenaged niece, after all. Press reports from around the time of Elizabeth’s milestone 18th birthday noted that the young princess had recently eaten in public at a restaurant for a first time: an outing with her aunt Marina at Claridge’s in London, following a trip to see a matinee performance at the theater. Elizabeth had also been known to stay with Marina and her children at their country home, Coppins. Marina and her two older children, Edward and Alexandra, were on hand for the family birthday celebrations at Windsor Castle for Elizabeth on April 21, 1944.
The aquamarine clip brooches would remain mainstays in Elizabeth’s jewelry collection for the next eight decades. She didn’t have many opportunities to wear them during the war, but her accession to the throne in 1952 offered many more glittering daytime occasions for the brooches to sparkle. Above, Queen Elizabeth II wears the brooches on the collar of her coat as she arrives for the official welcome ceremonies in Amsterdam during her state visit to the Netherlands in March 1958.
She continued to wear the clips for the rest of her life. Though they could be joined together and worn as a single large brooch, Elizabeth primarily liked to wear them as separate clips, pinned near each other on one side of her dress or jacket. She wears them in this arrangement in the photograph above, taken at a Buckingham Palace garden party in June 2014.
The clips made several important appearances on the Queen in the last years of her life. In May 2020, she wore them for a special televised broadcast commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. The clips, which had been given to her by her father, added another echo of the late King George VI in the broadcast. A photograph of the late monarch was also placed beside the Queen as she spoke.
A year later, the Queen wore the brooches for a scaled-back State Opening of Parliament in London in May 2021. It would ultimately be her final appearance at the important event.
The Queen wore the clips again for an important anniversary the following year. In January 2022, she posed for a series of photographs, taken by Steve Parsons in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle, wearing the brooches on a blue dress. The images were released shortly afterward, in February 2022, to mark the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne. For the start of her Platinum Jubilee year, she wore jewels that looked back, in memory of her late father on the anniversary of his passing.
We saw the Queen wear the aquamarine clips one more time. On the eve of her state funeral in September 2022, Buckingham Palace released a final portrait of the Queen, which had been taken at Windsor in May. She again wears the clip brooches in this final iconic image from her reign.
Now, the team at Boucheron has reimagined the jewels they produced nearly a century ago in several modern forms. The “Like a Queen” collection features several different color-themed groupings of jewels, all with designs that echo the Queen’s clips. The “Hypnotic Blue” section of the collection includes a large cuff bracelet set with diamonds, sapphire, and aquamarines, plus blue lacquer to give the piece “a contemporary look.”
A diamond ring set with a 6-carat Ceylon sapphire is also included in this part of the collection.
Next is the “Frosty White” part of the collection, which features an impressive convertible jewel in diamonds, white gold, and rock crystal. Boucheron explains, “In the great tradition of wearing High Jewelry in various ways, this necklace made of diamonds, rock crystal and white gold features six different looks. The piece is adorned with the two signature Art Deco designs which may be detached and worn as a single or double brooch.”
The website notes that the looks for the “Frosty White” necklace also feature a throwback to a jewelry format popular in the 1930s and 1940s: “The draped lower portion of the necklace, composed of four radiant strands, is also independent. It may metamorphose into a jacket adornment or cape clasp.”
In the “Rolling Red” section of the collection, you can see the designers from Boucheron beginning to play a bit more with the dimensions and design of the original jewel. The website explains that, in this part of the collection, “the royal jewel motif is elongated and takes on a new dimension, revealing a totally modern approach.” The jewels in this grouping are set with rubies sourced from Mozambique, diamonds, and white gold.
A convertible necklace is the main jewel from the Rolling Red portion of the collection. It features a large tassel-like ornament that can be removed and worn separately.
Here’s a look at that central ornament when worn independently.
The model photographs from the collection show the ornament being worn as a brooch.
A pair of matching earrings completes this part of the collection. Sixteen rubies are featured, with a total weight of 17.35 carats.
This photograph shows the scale of the earrings on one of the models.
The Queen was an outdoorswoman who loved the natural world, so the “Garden Green” part of the collection seems like another special tribute to her. These pieces are set with Zambian emeralds and diamonds, enhanced by green lacquer accents. Above, a ring with a 6.25-carat emerald.
And a coordinating pair of earrings. These can also be worn without the emerald drop pendants.
Here’s a look at the earrings and ring together on Boucheron’s model.
The Queen’s favorite drink, a gin and dubonnet, is served with a slice of lemon—so “Lemon Slice” seems like an appropriate name for this part of Boucheron’s collection. This reimagining of the clips is described as “a compact, monochrome version with white diamonds on white gold.” According to Boucheron, this piece can be worn as a barette or a brooch.
It can also be transformed into the central element of a choker necklace. Boucheron’s website explains, “Thanks to leather ribbons, the diamond design may also be clipped in various ways to be worn as a choker or bracelet. The contrast among materials is a way to update the High Jewelry genre, propelling it into the 21st century.”
The same all-diamond version of the clips features in the “Moon White” part of the collection, which adds in another jewelry favorite of the late Queen: pearls.
“Combining daintiness and strength, this transformable jewelry set juxtaposes the soft iridescence of Akoya pearls with the intense sparkle of diamonds,” Boucheron’s website notes. The pearl drops can be removed from this set of earrings to offer other options for wearing the jewels.
How could a jewelry tribute to the late Queen not include a necklace strung with pearls? Boucheron notes that this “three-strand necklace features a detachable Art Deco clasp paved with diamonds. This may become a hair ornament or a pair of brooches that brings inimitable elegance to a tuxedo lapel or turtleneck.” For those who are interested—and I know many of you are!—these are Akoya cultured pearls.
Here’s a look at the all diamond clips worn joined together as a brooch.
And finally, we’ve got the “Mega Pink” section of the collection. Here, the Queen’s iconic clips are reimagined in diamonds, tourmalines, and pink lacquer.
These beautiful pink clips are shown both joined together as a single brooch and worn separately as clips on a jacket, in a style that would have been very much the way that the Queen’s clips were originally meant to be worn. So, after this survey of the tribute jewels, what do you think? Do you appreciate seeing classic royal pieces reinvented this way? And which royals would you like to see wearing these jewels “Like a Queen”?