Happy Birthday to Sarah, Duchess of York, who turns 59 today! A former daughter-in-law of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, who has continued to be a prominent society figure, she still retains many of the jewellery from her days as a member of the Royal Family. To mark her birthday, we are taking a look at her York Diamond Demi-Parure.
To mark her wedding to the Duke of York in 1986, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh presented their new daughter-in-law with this Diamond Demi-Parure, along with the York Diamond Tiara, which consists of modern diamond earrings, necklace, and bracelet, which were bought at Garrard for around £250,000.
During her tenure as a member of the Royal Family, the Duchess of York frequently wore her Diamond Demi-Parure, often with her Tiara, for a variety of events including the Royal Tour of Canada in 1987 and Saudi Return Banquet at Claridges Hotel in 1988, when the bracelet was threaded through her hair.
The Duchess continued to wear her Diamond Demi-Parure in the 1990s, when she still attended events semi-official capacity. In 1995, she mistakenly put a case containing a jewels in the carry-on luggage while traveling through JFK Airport, which were stolen by a teenage baggage handler stashed in her locker and in a toolshed behind his house, until being discovered by the FBI, whose assistant director questioned the decision by the Duchess: “I don’t think it shows a lot of wisdom myself. I certainly wouldn’t do it. But I personally wouldn’t have a half a million dollars of jewelry.” In response, she claimed that her lady-in-waiting, Jane Andrews, had decided to check the bag.
The Duchess has continued to wear the Diamond Demi-Parure at events even after her divorce, most recently in 2011 and 2012, when she wore the set at the Diamond Butterfly Ball. Many people expected to see it during Princess Eugenie’s recent wedding festivities, but it seems we will have to wait longer. UPDATE, the Duchess wore the necklace in July 2019.