This month, we have been marking the Bicentenary of the Birth of Queen Victoria by featuring her Top 20 Jewels, one for each decade since the Birth of 2nd-longest reigning British Monarch, in the 20 days leading up to the Anniversary itself, and today’s feature is her Coronation Necklace-
In 1858, after Queen Charlotte’s diamond rivière was given to the King of Hanover as part of the Hanoverian claim, Queen Victoria commissioned a replacement diamond rivière from Garrards for £65, using twenty-eight stones taken from two of her Garter badges and a sword hilt, with the 22.48 carat Lahore Diamond, previously in the Timur Ruby Necklace, as the central pendant of the new necklace. Two pear-shaped diamonds, from the original armlet of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond, weighing 12 carats and 7 carats respectively, were made into earrings.
In 1859, Queen Victoria was pictured wearing her new Diamond Necklace and Earrings in a Winterhalter Portrait, and they were among the relatively few jewels worn by the Queen during her long widowhood. Unlike her successors, Queen Victoria preferred to wear the necklace by itself, without other necklaces. After her death, the Necklace and Earrings were left to the Crown “to be worn by future Queens in right of it.”
Queen Alexandra wore the Necklace at her Coronation in 1902, as did Queen Mary for her Coronation in 1911, starting the trend of all Queens since Queen Victoria wearing them at their Coronation and earning it the sobriquet. Both Queen Alexandra preferred to wear the Necklace layered with many other diamond rivières, as was the fashion of the time.
Queen Elizabeth wore the Coronation Necklace and Earrings at her Coronation in 1937, and wore it quite often afterwards, including for a famous series of Cecil Beaton portraits, almost always with her own Coronation Necklace.
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The Queen wore the Coronation Necklace and Earrings at her own Coronation in 1953 (when the necklace was removed but it took too long so the earrings remained on during the anointing), and has worn it quite often in the years since, always just the singular necklace, like Queen Victoria. The Coronation Necklace and Earrings are among the most important jewels that the Queen has worn abroad throughout her reign, and there is no doubt we will continue to see it for years to come.