The Laings Journal
In honour of the late Queen Elizabeth II, we reflect on her iconic styles and jewellery pieces throughout her lifetime. The longest ruling monarch in British history influenced the jewellery industry over the years, from purchasing pieces herself, being presented with exquisite gifts, and inheriting precious jewels from a long line of royal succession.
Often favoured by The Queen and other royals as decorative pieces, brooches date back to the Bronze age where they were used as a practical means to fasten garments. In later years, they were made with precious gemstones to make them more attractive. Over history, brooches became a way to showcase identity and convey messages, as with other items of jewellery. This includes symbols of religion, relationship status, politics and beliefs.
The late Queen enjoyed an impressive brooch collection. Among her memorable favourites were The Cullinan III and IV, The Flower Basket and The Lovers Knot. These held special meanings to The Queen. Her Majesty inherited the Cullinan III and IV brooch in 1953, which is estimated to be the highest value brooch in The Queen’s collection. It was created from the historic Cullinan diamond, the largest mined diamond in history. The Flower Basket was gifted to The Queen in 1948 from her parents, to celebrate the birth of her son, Prince Charles. The Queen inherited the Lovers Knot brooch from her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1953, which features a large bow covered in tiny diamonds. These pieces reflect how The Queen utilised brooches to reflect her sentimental values.
Members of the royal family adopted brooches as symbols of respect at The Queen’s funeral. Princess Charlotte wore a horseshoe brooch gifted to her by her late grandmother and The Princess of Wales opted to wear the late Queen’s feather detail brooch to pay tribute. The late Queen herself embodied the sentimental value of brooches in her final portrait, seen wearing aquamarine and diamond brooches gifted to her for her 18th birthday in 1944, from her father King George VI.
Perhaps The Queen’s most influential contribution to the jewellery industry was her love for pearls. She was rarely seen without her signature three-strand pearl necklace given to her by her father. It is rumoured that she even had replicas made so as not to wear out the original. Pearls are appropriately symbols of wisdom, elegance and virtue, which identifies with the late Queen. Pearls have been traditionally worn by British Queen’s for decades and are often regarded in the jewellery industry as timeless and classic. The Princess of Wales wore another of The Queen’s favourites, the Japanese pearl choker, to her funeral.
The Queen also had an exquisite collection of diamond jewellery. Perhaps most sentimental, was her 3ct engagement ring. Alongside this, wedding gifts included her beloved Edinburgh bracelet from her husband and Cartier earrings from her parents. The Queen had an impressive collection of colourful precious gemstones too, which she was seen wearing to special occasions and events. This includes the Victorian Suite of Sapphire and Diamond set, the Crown Amethyst Suite of Jewels, the Baring Ruby necklace and the Emerald Greville set.
Tiaras and Crowns
The Queen had an impressive collection of tiaras throughout her reign which often captured attention. It is thought that the Vladimir Tiara was one of her favourites, boasting pearls and diamonds. The Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara was also made with impressive pearls and was often worn by Princess Diana. Princess Diana wore it several times publicly, including on the Royal Tour of Saudi Arabia in 1986 and to the Royal Banquet in Brazil in 1991. Perhaps most memorable, would be the evening following the Expo. 86’ Transport World Fair in Vancouver, where the princess wore the painful, heavy tiara despite having fainted earlier that day. The Lovers Knot tiara was commissioned by Queen Mary, she sacrificed the pearls from her Ladies of England Tiara to make it.
The iconic Cartier Halo Tiara was gifted to The Queen on her 18th Birthday and lent to the Princess of Wales on her wedding day. The Queen also had statement gemstone tiaras, often worn with matching jewellery and her bespoke colourful outfits. These include the Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara, Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara and Queen Mary’s Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara.
The George IV State Diadem holds significant history, worn by The Queen to her coronation, and later worn to State Openings of Parliament. The Imperial State Crown was placed on top of her coffin as a final tribute of respect to the Late Queen, symbolising the end of her historic 70-year rule. King Charles will also wear this crown following his coronation ceremony. The influence of Queen Elizabeth’s reign will undoubtedly live on within the future of the Commonwealth as she lays to rest.