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 Diamond Fringe Brooch-
In 1856, Queen Victoria ordered a large diamond chaine de corsage from Garrard, using diamonds from an ornament given by Ottoman Sultan Abdul Mejid I of Turkey, which she had partially dismantled in 1870 (the diamonds being set into her Small Diamond Crown that year), and what remained was a large emerald-cut diamond, surrounded by 12 large brilliants, suspending nine graduated pampilles.
Queen Victoria famously wore the original diamond chaine de corsage for a Winterhalter, but set it away after Prince Albert’s death, thinking it too grand for mourning. However, after it was remodeled, Queen Victoria wore the Fringe Brooch for portraits well into her old age.
Unlike other jewels, that were left to the Crown, Queen Victoria’s Fringe Brooch was inherited directly by her eldest son, King Edward VII, and often worn by Queen Alexandra during her husband’s reign and in her widowhood. After her death in 1925, the Fringe Brooch passed to Queen Mary, who wore it very rarely.
In 1936, Queen Victoria’s Fringe Brooch was among the jewels handed over by Queen Mary to the new Queen Elizabeth, for whom it became a favourite, being worn for daytime and evening events, at her bodice and on her shoulder. Important appearences included the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and the Wedding of Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. The Queen Mother retained the Brooch until her death in 2002.
Queen Victoria’s Fringe Brooch was inherited by the Queen, and was first worn for a Turkish State Banquet, an appropriate choice given the provenance of the diamonds. In 2014, the Queen wore the Fringe Brooch for the D-Day 70th Anniversary celebration which may have been a tribute to the late Queen Mother, who played an important role during World War II. With the Queen scheduled to attend the 75th Anniversary events next month, we may hopefully see the brooch again very soon.