14 June 2012

The Kent Amethyst Demi-Parure

Two versions of Kent Amethyst Brooches: with and without pendants
The Queen has a beautiful and historic set of amethysts in her jewel collection, the Kent Demi-Parure. The most used part of this parure is the brooch without pendants, featuring a hexagonal amethyst surrounded by diamond sun rays on the bottom and scrolls and diamonds on top. Three amethyst and diamond pendants can be hung below, though they are only rarely used.
Both brooch versions in use
The set was owned by Queen Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent, who left it to her daughter. Queen Victoria subsequently left the set to the Crown. The majority of the jewelry worn by The Queen today (excepting items included in the Crown Jewels) originates with Queen Victoria or after, making these pieces some of the oldest in regular use. They have passed down from queen to queen, ending up in The Queen's hands after her accession.
Queen Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent (left) and Queen Elizabeth (right) using the large brooch version
Sometimes the brooch versions seen here are listed as separate pieces, though small hooks appear to exist underneath for the attachment of the pendants; however, not all of the pieces in the Kent amethyst parure are accounted for, so I believe it's hard to be definite.
The necklace and earrings, featuring large amethysts surrounded by rays of diamonds. At left, The Queen pairs them with the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara.
According to Leslie Field in The Queen's Jewels, the demi-parure (or matching set) includes three brooches, a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a pair of hair combs. We have seen only one of the brooches - though many suggest that the other two have been added to the necklace for additional length - and the hair combs have never been seen. The set as a whole has rarely been seen, The Queen having only worn the necklace and earrings about twice in public during her reign. This isn't really surprising; neither The Queen nor her mother seem to have been big fans of the stone, and the brooch is pretty much only used when a purple outfit demands it. All of which is crushing to me, the ardent amethyst fan.

To add to the mystery surrounding this set: in the comments, you will find a practically identical piece (a necklace made from the brooch elements) which was worn by Lady Mary Charteris, daughter of the Earl of Wemyss, for her wedding. A relation, or a replica? I do not know. (Thanks Jeanne!)

Appearances (all of the brooch without pendants, unless otherwise noted):
18 February 2020: Audiences at Buckingham Palace
5 January 2020: Church at Sandringham
11 December 2019: Audiences at Buckingham Palace 
6 November 2019: Royal British Legion Industries Centenary
23 October 2019: Audiences at Buckingham Palace
11 March 2019: Commonwealth Day
20 February 2019: Audiences at Buckingham Palace
13 January 2019: Church at Sandringham
2 June 2018: Epsom Derby
12 April 2018: King George VI Day Centre Visit
9 February 2018: Audiences at Buckingham Palace
2 February 2018: Visit to RAF Marham
27 February 2017: UK-India Year of Culture Reception
24 November 2016: Service of Thanksgiving for The Duke of Edinburgh's Award
4 September 2016: Church at Balmoral
1 July 2016: Holyrood Week: Arrival
3 January 2016: Church at Sandringham
16 October 2015: Investiture at Windsor Castle
1 July 2015: Holyrood Week, Day 2: Garden Party
12 May 2015: Duke of Wellington Memorial Service
15 April 2015: Order of Merit Luncheon
21 December 2014: Church at Sandringham
13 November 2014: Audiences at Buckingham Palace
28 June 2014: Solemn Drumhead Service
29 December 2013: Church at Sandringham
13 November 2013: Walking with the Wounded Reception
20 June 2013: Royal Ascot, Day 3
29 May 2013: Mount Everest Ascent Anniversary Reception
12 May 2013: Royal Windsor Horse Show 
13 December 2012: Bank of England
7 November 2012: Poppy Factory Visit
9 October 2012: Windsor and Eton Society Jubilee Tribute
14 June 2012: Visit to the Midlands, Day 2
24 February 2012: Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education Presentation 
2010: Visit to Canada 
2009: Order of Merit Service  
2008: Chelsea Flower Show  
1991: State Visit to the United States (brooch with pendants)
1985: State Visit to Portugal (with necklace and earrings) 

Photos: Getty Images/Life/Leslie Field