14 November 2012

The George VI and Modern Sapphire Set

The George VI Sapphires, including necklace, pendant, earrings, and extra link from the necklace
The Queen's sapphire set begins with a mid-19th century set of necklace and earrings bought by her father, King George VI, at Carrington & Co. and given to her as a wedding present in 1947. The set features a necklace of emerald-cut sapphires surrounded by diamonds and separated by individual diamonds, plus a pair of pendant earrings, each with a single large sapphire in a diamond cluster. These pieces are set in gold.
The original length of the necklace is shown in the first photo on the left
As given to the Queen, the necklace had 18 sapphire clusters; she had it shortened by four links in 1952. In 1959 the largest cluster was turned into a pendant to hang on the necklace and was fitted with a pin for use as a brooch (though we typically see her turn to Prince Albert's Sapphire for her massive sapphire brooch needs). These alterations were made by Garrard.
The Modern Sapphire Tiara
In 1963, the Queen added a tiara and a bracelet to the set, which I call the Modern Sapphire Tiara and the Modern Sapphire Bracelet. This is one of the tiaras the Queen has worn on a regular basis over the years; click here to read more at Order of Splendor.
The Modern Sapphire Bracelet
The bracelet features sapphires in horseshoe-shaped diamond surrounds. The center link is a sapphire surrounded fully by diamonds. The tiara and the bracelet are part of the assembled parure; while they are not an exact match in style to the original necklace and earrings, they seem to have been acquired specifically for use alongside the George VI sapphires, and so we will group them together.
In Angela Kelly’s book Dressing the Queen: the Jubilee Wardrobe (details, click here), we see the sapphires in the tray in which they are transported to the Queen for use. They are accompanied by the regular diamond evening watch and three options for sapphire rings to wear.

I'm waiting for the Queen to wear her sapphires again (and update: she did, tiara included, in 2015!), because I feel like it's been a while. And sapphires as gorgeous as this (King George VI certainly had an eye for them, didn't he?) deserve as many outings as possible!

16 October 2020: New Canadian Portrait (with tiara)
8 December 2016: Diplomatic Reception (with tiara)
1 November 2016: State Visit from Colombia, State Banquet (with tiara)
20 October 2015: State Visit from China, State Banquet (with tiara)
8 May 2014: David Bailey Portrait (Release)
2007: The Garter Service
2006: Private 80th Birthday Party 
2006: Diplomatic Reception
1991: State Visit to the United States (with tiara)
1983: State Visit to India 
1983: State Visit to Sweden 
1965: State Visit to Germany  
1960: State Visit from France     
Various Years: CHOGM Dinners

Photos: Royal Collection/Leslie Field/PA/Corbis