07 October 2013

Queen Victoria's Wheat-Ear Brooches

Queen Victoria's Wheat-Ear Brooches
We normally see a few of these in use at a time, but the Windsor collection actually includes a full set of six brooches depicting ears of wheat in diamonds set in silver and gold. The set includes three mirrored pairs of two brooches each. They were first made for Queen Adelaide at the request of her husband, William IV, by Rundell, Bridge & Co. in 1831 using stones from the family collection. The brooches were turned over to Queen Victoria after she took the throne, but three included stones that had to be returned to the King of Hanover when he won his claim for the return of Hanover jewels that had belonged to Queen Charlotte, wife of George III. Those brooches were redone by Garrard in 1858.
Queen Victoria, brooches along her dress neckline
Queen Victoria made all six brooches heirlooms of the crown, and they have passed from queen to queen ever since, coming into the hands of the current Queen in 1952. She has worn them both as hair ornaments and in a set of two as brooches.
The Queen (as a hair ornament, left, and as brooches, right)
Ears of wheat were a popular jewel motif, but these brooches do not seem to have been worn all that often. They occupy an interesting position in the collection, though; the Queen doesn't use hair ornaments outside of tiaras often, so these serve a unique dual purpose, plus they are some of the older pieces outside of the crown jewels.

Appearances:
2010: Visit to Oman
1991: State Visit to the United States

Photos: Getty Images/Royal Collection/Royal Opera House/Bauer Griffin