19 November 2012

Diamond Collet Necklaces

Any good royal collection has at least one diamond collet necklace - a basic necklace with single round diamonds (of considerable size on their own) in a single row. Queen Mary was a huge fan, often piling on multiple necklaces so as to create almost a diamond turtleneck for herself. She also kept a collection of loose collets at Garrard to vary the length of these "basic" necklaces.
Queen Mary and many, many diamond necklaces
The Queen also wears collet necklaces, but she tends to stick to one at a time. According to Hugh Roberts in The Queen's Diamonds, Queen Mary had 8 collet necklaces, and 2 of those were left to the Queen.

The Coronation Necklace would also fall under this category, with the Lahore pendant removed.

Queen Alexandra's Collet Necklace
Queen Alexandra wears the necklace on a velvet choker
One of those 2 necklaces was Queen Alexandra's Collet Necklace, which was a gift to Queen Alexandra for her 1863 wedding from the City of London.

The Duchess of Teck's Collet Necklace
Queen Mary (left), and Queen Elizabeth (right), both wearing the Teck necklace as the longest necklace
Queen Mary inherited this necklace from her mother, Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck; she in turn had likely received it from her aunt, Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester. The necklace, though it has varied in length over time, is a longer form and currently includes 46 brilliant diamonds. It is the longer necklace on both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (seen at the 1953 coronation), above. This necklace was with The Queen Mother until her death in 2002.

Queen Elizabeth's Coronation Necklace 
Queen Elizabeth (left, with the Coronation Necklace), and the Duchess of Cornwall
The most notable collet necklace in The Queen Mother's collection was one made of old-cut diamonds and given to her by her husband, King George VI, in 1937 to celebrate their coronation. As used by The Queen Mother (Queen Elizabeth), it included 40 diamonds and was long enough to be worn beneath the Coronation Necklace. (She also wore it as the middle necklace in the three collet necklaces she wore to her daughter's 1953 coronation, shown above.) The Queen has loaned it to The Duchess of Cornwall, who shortened it to 31 diamonds.

Longer, Graduated Collet Necklace
Compared to Queen Alexandra's Collet Necklace, this version is longer, and the diamonds have a more pronounced graduation in size from back to front.

Smaller Collet Necklace
There also appears to be at least one option with smaller diamonds, as seen at the opening ceremony for the London Olympics.

This list is not complete and The Queen's collection almost certainly includes more examples, but these necklaces are devilishly hard to tell apart when in use. They can also be varied in length, as Queen Mary did. Identifications are always up for debate.

In 2017, one of these necklaces appeared for the first time as a loan to The Duchess of Cambridge.

Many thanks to Franck for additional identifications, and also to Baxter.

5 December 2017: Diplomatic Reception (on The Duchess of Cambridge)
19 November 2012: Royal Variety Performance (Longer, graduated)
27 July 2012: Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics (Smaller)
2010: State Visit to the UAE and Oman (Longer, graduated) 
2010: Visit to Canada (Queen Alexandra's) 
2008: State Visit from France (Queen Elizabeth's, on The Duchess of Cornwall)
1960: State Visit from France (Two, on The Queen Mother)  

Photos: Royal Collection/PA/via Getty Images