The 11 Most Stunning Brooches in the Royal Vaults
When all eyes are turned to the royal family's headline-grabbing tiaras and engagement rings, it means many incredible pieces of jewelry in the royal collection can be overlooked. For the biggest and best-quality diamonds in the world, as well as symbols of the deepest love, it's all about the royals' brooches. From priceless antiques to more contemporary creations, the pretty trinkets of a young princess to the knockout bling of a grand matriarch, we rounded up the best and most beautiful royal brooches.
The Cullinan III and IV
The 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond was the biggest ever found, and in 1907 — two years after its discovery — it was gifted to King Edward VII. Having been cut into many pieces, the two largest — Cullinan I and II — now sit at the head of the Sovereign's Sceptre and the band of the Imperial State Crown, respectively. The two second-largest — each still the size of a crab apple — were made into a brooch, which was passed down to the queen in the year of her coronation. She has worn the brooch several times publicly, most notably at the Diamond Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving.
Queen Victoria's Fringe
In 1856, Queen Victoria requested that royal jewelers Garrard create her a piece made from existing stones in her personal collection, and they fashioned a fabulous waterfall of diamonds to be worn along the top of a low-cut bodice. The large emerald-cut centerpiece is surrounded by many small brilliants and 12 large brilliants, with a fringe of nine strands beneath. The queen mother wore it to the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana and left it to her daughter the queen upon her death in 2002.
The Greville Ivy-Leaf Clips
Dame Margaret Greville has become famous for bequeathing all of her jewelry to the then-Queen Elizabeth upon her passing in 1942. Two diamond ivy leaf clips had been created separately by Cartier — one before 1930 and the other in 1937 — and they were given by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to their daughter Princess Elizabeth for her 21st birthday. As a princess, she often wore them separately — with one on a lapel and the other on a hat. As queen, she often wears them together.
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Brooch
The Garrard creation of brilliant-cut diamonds and pearls was gifted to Queen Victoria on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and she described it as "beautiful" in her diary. The current queen inherited it from her mother (seen here) in 2002 and wears it without the lower chain of diamonds for daytime functions, including in Toronto in 2010.
The Prince Albert
The sapphire surrounded by 12 diamonds was a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria the day before their wedding on Feb. 9, 1840. Victoria wore it on her big day and constantly throughout her marriage while Prince Albert was alive. Her daughter-in-law Queen Alexandra wore it at her coronation, and it was passed to the queen in the year of her accession. She has worn it many times since, including for Ascot, her Christmas broadcast in 1987, and a trip to Saudi Arabia.
The Cullinan V
The unusual heart-shaped stone is supported in a web of platinum and brilliant-cut diamonds (multifaceted round stones) and was designed to be used in many different ways — perhaps most significantly by Queen Mary when it was clipped into her Queen Consort's Crown. It was given to the queen in the year of her coronation, but she has only ever worn it as a brooch, including for assorted daytime receptions, a trip to Tuvalu, and her Christmas broadcasts in 1981, 1999, and 2008.
Williamson Diamond Brooch
The 23.6-carat centerpiece is considered the best pink diamond ever found and was a wedding gift to the queen from mine owner Dr. John Williamson. The jonquil-shaped brooch was designed by Cartier and comprises dozens of brilliant-, marquise-, and baguette-cut diamonds. Her majesty has worn it many times, most significantly to the weddings of her sons, Prince Charles and Prince Edward.
The Sapphire and Ruby Flower Spray
For her 20th birthday in 1946, the then-Princess Elizabeth received from her parents a sweetly pretty Cartier brooch made up of two flowers — one picked out in blue sapphires, and the other in pink sapphires and rubies. The princess chose to wear it in the first photo to be released of her and husband Prince Philip with their baby son Prince Charles, and as queen, she still favors it today. She wore the piece while in Australia in 2011.
The Cullinan VI and VIII
With a similar platinum fretwork but set with the emerald-cut Cullinan VIII and the suspended marquise-cut Cullinan VI, the brooch was also designed to be worn in multiple ways, including attached to other Cullinan brooches. It was also gifted to the queen in her coronation year, and similarly to the others, the queen has only worn it on its own — on tours of Sudan and Jamaica and in the UK.
Queen Victoria's Bow Brooches
The three brooches of differing sizes were created in 1858 from brilliant- and rose-cut diamonds and worn as a suite — as seen on Queen Mary at her coronation. The queen inherited them in the year she acceded to the throne, but she wears them separately. Their versatility lends them to a variety of events including the christening of Prince Charles, the funeral of the Duke of Windsor, state visits, and Remembrance Sunday services.
The Duchess of Teck's Flower Brooch
The beautiful cluster of flowers and leaves features tiny floral drops suspended on little rose-set chains, all set with brilliant diamonds. The piece belonged to the queen's maternal great-grandmother Mary, Duchess of Teck, and became a favorite of the queen mother (seen here). The queen wore it to be photographed by Lord Snowdon in 2010.