Surrounding a large colored gemstone with a row of diamonds is a classic showcase design, and it's used twice in this brooch: a large faceted oval ruby in a diamond surround above a pear-shaped ruby and diamond pendant. These rubies are exceptionally large examples of the stone; big rubies are rare, and recent auctions have seen them sell for millions. It is not surprising, then, that these stones have a long history in the royal family.
In July 1854, Queen Victoria purchased from Garrard a set of opal and
diamond jewelry consisting of a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a
brooch. These items were probably bought to create a set with her
Oriental Circlet tiara, which was designed in opals and diamonds by her
husband, Prince Albert, and had been completed by Garrard the previous year.
The brooch shown here is most likely that 1854 brooch; the Oriental Circlet and Queen Victoria's Crown Ruby Earrings and Necklace have been covered previously.
|Queen Victoria's Crown Ruby Brooch|
|Queen Victoria and Queen Mary, wearing what may be this brooch. Queen Victoria would have been wearing the opal version, though she was also painted in a ruby brooch of a similar design.|
|Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother|
The Oriental Circlet and Crown Ruby Necklace and Earrings were among her favorite jewels. She liked the ruby parure so much, she kept it after her daughter took the throne in 1952, and wore it throughout her widowhood. She also used other ruby brooches with the parure; in fact, when listing the set as used by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field states that it includes four brooches.
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Photos: via Reuters and Getty Images; Jagger/BBC; ANP; British Pathe