Today marks the Anniversary of the Birth of Queen Mary, the Queen’s grandmother, who was born on this day in 1867. Compiling a magnificent jewellery collection, a lot of her jewels are frequently seen on the Queen these days, and to mark the anniversary today, we are featuring some of her most iconic jewels, the Cambridge Emerald Parure.
In the early part of the 19th century, Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge bought raffle tickets for a charity lottery in Frankfurt, and then won a box that contained around forty magnificent cabochon round and pear-shaped emeralds of various sizes.
Forming some of the emeralds into a necklace and earrings, the Cambridge Emeralds were inherited by her younger daughter, Princess Mary Adelaide, the Duchess of Teck, the mother of Queen Mary, who sometimes put some of the emeralds in her Stomacher. She left them to her son Prince Francis of Teck, who in turn left them to his mistress, the Countess of Kilmorey, in 1910, which horrified his sister, who paid £10,000 to acquire the Cambridge Emeralds, leaving just one brooch with the Countess.
Queen Mary used the Cambridge Emeralds in a new Parure she had commissioned for the Delhi Durbar of 1911, consisting of a necklace, earrings, stomacher, brooches, and bracelet, also putting some of the pear-shaped Emeralds on top of her Delhi Durbar Tiara, also commissioned for the occasion, along with her Art Deco Emerald Choker]. A few years later, Queen Mary adapted the Vladimir Tiara to be worn with the Emeralds, which she also later put on top of her Diamond Bandeau. The Parure was not too frequently picture, but often worn.
After Queen Mary’s death in 1953, the Cambridge Emeralds were inherited by the Queen, along with the Vladimir Tiara, while the Delhi Durbar Tiara was given to the Queen Mother and the Diamond Bandeau was left to the Duchess of Kent. The Delhi Durbar Parure has been among the Queen’s most worn jewels throughout her reign, and she has often worn the brooches for daytime events as well. There is no doubt we will continue to see the Cambridge Emeralds for years to come.