Today marks the Anniversary of the Birth of Dame Margaret Greville, the Hon Mrs Greville, who was born on this day in 1863! The illegitimate daughter of a brewery millionaire, she married the son of a Baron, and became a noted Society Hostess, from her magnificent home at Polesden Lacey, getting close to the Queen Mother, to whom she left her enormous Jewellery Collection, so to mark the Anniversary today, we are featuring the Greville Diamond Chandelier Earrings!
Each featuring three pear-shaped Diamonds suspended from half-moon, trapeze, square, baguette, baton and emerald cut diamonds, incorporating a lexicon of modern diamond cuts. Initially created as a pair of brilliant drop earrings by Cartier in London in 1918, the earrings were lengthened using twelve additional diamonds in 1922, with ten more diamonds added in 1929, when the Earrings took their current form.
Dame Margaret Greville, the Hon Mrs Greville was not pictured in the Earrings, and on her death in 1942, the majority of her magnificent Jewellery Collection, all pieces valued over 100 pounds, was inherited by Queen Elizabeth. In 1942, the Queen wrote to Queen Mary:
I must tell you that Mrs Greville has left me her jewels, She has left them to me ‘with her loving thoughts,’ dear old thing, and I feel very touched, I don’t suppose I shall see what they consist of for a long time, owing to the slowness of lawyers & death duties etc, but it is rather exciting to be left something, and I do admire beautiful stones with all my heart.”
When the jewels arrived to the Queen a few months later, there was much unwanted press attention on the contents of the initialled black trunk, which included the Greville Diamond Tiara, an Emerald Tiara, the Festoon Necklace, a Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace, two Emerald Necklaces, and a pair of Pearl Earrings, alongside several spectacular Diamond Earrings, Necklaces, Brooches and Bracelets, the true extent of which has never been publicly revealed.
When Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in 1947, she received the Greville Diamond Chandelier Earrings, and the Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace, as a wedding present from her mother, Queen Elizabeth, which were also among the jewels on display at St James’s Palace.
Unlike other wedding gifts, the Greville Diamond Chandelier Earrings were not worn until she become Queen in 1952, when they were worn for Royal Film Performance of ‘Because You’re Mine’ in 1952 as well as the the Royal Variety Performance a few weeks later before being worn was worn with St. Edward’s Crown and the George IV State Diadem, as well as her City of London Fringe Necklace and Queen Mary’s Diamond Stomacher, for one of her earliest portraits ahead of the Coronation in 1953.
By the mid-1950s, the Greville Diamond Chandelier Earrings had become a favourite jewel of the Queen, being worn with the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara or Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara for the British State Visit to Portugal, the State Visit to Denmark, the State Visit to Paris, and the State Visit to the United States in 1957, as well as the State Visit to the Netherlands in 1958 and the French State Visit to Britain in 1960.
The Diamond Chandelier Earrings continued to be worn at home and abroad, for a visit to Pakistan and a tour of West Africa in 1961, the Norwegian State Visit to Scotland, the Gala Performance of ‘HMS Pinafore’ and Queen Juliana’s Silver Anniversary in 1962, as well as on a State Visit to Belgium in 1966 and a State Visit to Austria in 1969.
During the 1970s, the Queen continued to wear the Greville Diamond Chandelier Earrings for several prominent occasions like the Captain Cook Bicentenary Tour in 1970, the Afghan State Visit to Britain in 1971, the State Visit to Thailand and the State Visit to Malaysia in 1972, the Danish State Visit to Britain in 1974, the Swedish State Visit to Britain in 1975, the State Visit to Luxembourg in 1976, and the British State Banquet at the White House in 1976.
While the Queen began to wear a pair of Antique Diamond Chandelier Earrings from the late 1970s, the Greville Diamond Chandelier Earrings made a number of notable appearances in the following years, for the State Visit to Morocco in 1980, State Visit to Norway in 1981, State Visit to Sweden in 1983, and the Spanish State Visit to Britain in 1986.
Since the mid-1980s, the Greville Diamond Chandelier Earrings have only been worn for a handful of rare occasions, including a State Visit to Germany in 1992, and most recently on the Queen’s final Tour of Canada in 2010, though they have often been exhibited at Buckingham Palace. Following the Queen’s death, the Earrings have been inherited by King Charles and we await their reappearance on a member of the Royal Family!
In 2023, the Princess of Wales wore the Earrings at the spectacular Banquet to celebrate the Wedding of Crown Prince Al Hussein and Princess Rajwa at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman.