Queen’s Sapphires

Happy Sapphire Jubilee to Queen Elizabeth II, who became Queen on this day in 1952, upon the death of her father, King George VI. The Queen will mark the day privately, as she tends to remember the loss of her father rather celebrate than her own accession. In honour of her Sapphire Jubilee, we will take a look at all of the Queen’s sapphires.

Modern Sapphire Tiara

Also known as the George VI tiara, this piece originated with Princess Louise of Belgium, who wore it as a necklace and as a stomacher. In 1963, the necklace was acquired by the Queen, who turned it into a Tiara, to pair with the George VI Sapphire Parure. The Queen has worn it regularly since, including the Colombian State Banquet and Diplomatic Reception last year.

George VI Sapphire Parure

Composed of a mid-19th century set of necklace and earrings, the Sapphire Parure was bought by King George VI at Carrington & Co. as a wedding present for his daughter, then Princess Elizabeth, in 1947. The Queen had the necklace shortened and the set modified, adding the Modern sapphire tiara and a bracelet. The parure continues to be a favourite, not only with the Sapphire Tiara, but also with other tiaras, or at Black Tie events. UPDATE- The parure was also worn in the portrait released to mark her Sapphire Jubilee today.

Dubai Looped Sapphire Demi-Parure

Given as a gift to the Queen during a 1979 tour of the Middle East, the set from Asprey includes a necklace of diamond loops with alternating loops surrounding large oval sapphires, plus a pair of earrings and a ring. Again, the Queen modified the set. the parure has never been a favourite, but has had a few notable outings, including an Official Portrait for Canada.

Sapphire Tassel Demi-Parure

Another Middle Eastern gift, the parure includes a necklace with a central knot accented by a sapphire, with a tassel of diamond strands with sapphire pendants. It is accompanied by sapphire and diamond cluster earrings. Not a favourite, this parure has been worn to several important events since 2002, including a Saudi State Banquet, which might provide a clue to its provenance.

Prince Albert’s Sapphire Brooch

Given as a wedding gift to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert the night before their wedding in 1840, this sapphire surrounded by 12 large diamonds was worn by  the Queen on her wedding day and throughout her life. It was also worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother). This is one of the Queen’s most worn brooches, worn six times last year. A favourite, it was worn to important events such as the Christening of the Duke of Cambridge in 1982. She also uses the brooch to secure her sash with her Sapphire Tiara and parure.

Marie Feodorovna’s Sapphire Brooch

Given as a wedding gift by the Prince and Princess of Wales (the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) to Princess Dagmar of Denmark (sister of the Princess of Wales and later Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia) in 1866, this oval cabochon sapphire surrounded by two rows of diamonds with a pear drop pearl pendant was worn by her at a card game wit her siblings and father. After Empress Marie Feodorovna’s death in exile in 1928, her daughters sold the brooch to Queen Mary, daughter-in-law of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, who wore it until her death in 1953. It passed down to the Queen, who wears it a few times every year.

Sapphire Chrysanthemum Brooch

One of the Queen’s oldest brooches, the Sapphire Chrysanthemum Brooch was a gift to then Princess Elizabeth for launching the British Princess oil tanker by Sir James Laing & Sons Limited and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company Limited in 1946. She wore it often in the 1940s and 50s, including her honeymoon photos and Princess Anne’s 1950 Christening. The Queen still wears the piece today, most famously in the recreation portrait of the honeymoon pictures.

Queen Mary’s Russian Brooch

A wedding gift from Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia for the future Queen Mary in 1894, Queen Mary wore the square cabochon sapphire and a square-cut diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds with two small scrolls, regularly until her death in 1953, when it was inherited by the Queen. The brooch is worn sparingly, but was worn once last year.

Russian Sapphire Cluster Brooch

A cluster brooch with a sapphire framed in diamonds and gold, the Russian cluster brooch was acquired from the estate of Empress Marie Feodorovna in 1934 by Queen Mary. The brooch was worn regularly by the Queen Mother during her long widowhood, before it passed to the Queen, who has worn it only once, on a visit to the Rome.

Carrington Sapphire Feather Brooch

A wedding gift from Messrs Carrington and Company Limited in 1947, the sapphire feather brooch is composed of a large sapphire center in a diamond feather. It is worn quite sparingly.

Sapphire and Diamond Grapes Brooch

This brooch, composed of diamond grapes tied by a sapphire bow, was worn by the Queen Mother from the 1940s until the end of her life. The Queen has  worn it quite a few times in recent years.

Queen Mother’s Sapphire Flower Brooch

An anniversary gift from King George VI to Queen Elizabeth, this flower brooch is composed of a diamond center with six petals made from groups of sapphires. It was worn by the Queen Mother throughout her life, but the Queen has only worn it one, on a visit to Australia in 2011.

Queen Mother’s Cartier Art Deco Leaf Brooch

Given as a gift from the Duke of York to the Duchess of York (future King George Vi and Queen Elizabeth) in 1928, this Cartier Art Deco brooch with a staggered frame of diamond baguettes and a vein of pavé-set diamonds features cabochon sapphires in a range of shapes in the middle and is dotted with small amethysts, emeralds, and a ruby. The Queen Mother wore it in the 1930s, including the Wedding of Lady May Cambridge. During WWII, the brooch was gifted to the Queen from her parents. She wore it during the early years of her reign, but not so much in the last few years. It’s last recorded appearance is from 1997.

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