30 March 2015

The Queen Mother's Pearl of the Dee Brooch

The Queen Mother's Pearl of the Dee Brooch
As a gift to mark her 100th birthday, the Salmon and Trout Association commissioned this brooch for Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother from goldsmith Rachel Jeffrey. The design is based on a salmon fly and it includes a blue gray pearl at the top, a body of solid 19 carat gold with a lattice work in sapphires, emeralds, and rubies, wings small touches of yellow and white diamonds, and a tail of 18 carat gold. It cost a reported £2500 to make, and the color scheme was a tip of the hat to the birthday girl's racing colors, according to the designer's site. Considering The Queen Mother loved to fish when in Scotland, I'm sure it made her smile. And it made a few other people smile too, with a limited edition production of 100 brooches that sold quickly.
Official engagement photo
I don't know if Queen Elizabeth had a chance to wear it publicly before she passed away, but it would get a significant debut a few years later, appearing in the engagement photo of Camilla Parker-Bowles and The Prince of Wales, which was taken at Birkhall (Queen Elizabeth's home on the Balmoral Estate, now used by the couple). The new Duchess of Cornwall would also wear the brooch for the first royal engagement after her wedding, in Scotland on the couple's honeymoon (shown below).
Knowing what we know now, the appearance of this brooch and that engagement ring were huge tips to what Camilla's jewel future held. They were just the first of many pieces from The Queen Mother's collection that we would see on The Duchess of Cornwall.
As for this brooch, it hasn't had many outings since these early ones. She has also worn it to the Braemar Gathering, so it seems the Scottish connection is strong. And there's another strong connection for The Duchess too: the designer set her business up with the help of a loan from The Prince's Trust, started by The Prince of Wales. (By the way, the Braemar appearance shown above seems to be the first time she wore it properly. The first two appearances? Worn upside down. Oops.)

Photos: Rachel Jeffrey, Clarence House, and via Getty Images

29 March 2015

The Duchess of Cornwall's Three Strand Pearl Choker with Amethyst Clasp

The Duchess of Cornwall's Three Strand Pearl Choker with Amethyst Clasp
One of several pearl necklaces in The Duchess of Cornwall's collection, this version has three longer strands of pearls. The small clasp features what is likely an amethyst at the center (it has a mainly purple color but can take other shades at times) surrounded by diamonds in a lozenge shape. This particular necklace has been in her collection since before her marriage, spotted since at least 2000.
You don't have to pay much attention to The Duchess of Cornwall's jewels to know that her collection is particularly rich in pearl chokers of varying sizes and with different decorative clasps. She's been a fan of the style for decades, and it was no surprise to see one around her neck the night her engagement to The Prince of Wales was announced (photo above).
Around the time of the wedding and for the first year or so of the couple's marriage, this particular necklace was a constant presence, but as her collection grew, it became less of a favorite. The Duchess continues to wear it primarily with the clasp at the front or to the side for decoration.

20 July 2016: Visit to Devon
23 June 2015: Visit to Scotland

Photos: via Getty Images and By MooseyJake via Wikimedia Commons

27 March 2015

A New Addition to the Vault: The Jewels of The Duchess of Cornwall

I have an announcement! I'm pretty excited about it, and I hope you will be too:

We will now be covering the jewels worn by The Duchess of Cornwall,
in addition to The Queen's jewels!

We've covered three years of The Queen's gems here on the blog, detailing her current events and all the pieces she's worn in that time, plus some of the notable pieces she's worn outside of that blog period. Obviously we haven't covered her entire collection (not even close, and also not even possible) but the blog now includes much of what she wears on a regular basis.

That focus is not going to change - we'll still cover Her Majesty's current events and her jewels, plus flashbacks. And now we're adding features on the jewels of The Duchess of Cornwall.

This is an addition I've been contemplating for quite a while. Why? For starters, Camilla has a fantastic jewel collection. She has a nice set of jewels that she personally owns (including things from her own family and gifts from Charles), she's building a nice set of jewels picked up on official business, and she has the use of a tremendous amount of jewelry from the collection of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The Queen Mother's pieces are on loan to Camilla, so they're technically part of The Queen's jewel vault anyway. She has this fantastic collection, but it doesn't get enough attention, in my opinion. So let's see what we can do about that.

Here are the details on our new Camilla coverage:
    • Unlike QEII coverage, I won't be covering all of The Duchess' daily events - she has an awful lot of events where nothing other than her "daily" stuff is present, anyway - but may cover her for special events. This will be mainly jewel features.
    • You'll be able to find all the jewels we cover on the new tabs up above, under the banner, just like you can for QEII's gems. We've already covered a few of the pieces she wears.
    • There's a lot of speculation involved with the history of her jewels, especially those that are part of her personal collection. As always, if you have more information on any given piece, I would love to hear from you! 
    We are fast approaching the 10th wedding anniversary of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, so it's the perfect time to get started. We're going to kick things off with a look at the first jewels we saw in her royal life, from her engagement to her wedding.

    And the fun has already begun...keep scrolling or click here for a feature on her engagement and wedding rings!

    Photo: Pool via Getty Images

    The Duchess of Cornwall's Engagement and Wedding Rings

    The Duchess of Cornwall's Engagement and Wedding Rings
    The engagement of The Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles was announced on February 10, 2005, after reportedly settling the details with The Queen over the Christmas holiday, and slightly earlier than planned since details had been leaked to the media. The happy couple appeared at a charity gala at Windsor Castle that night and met the press beforehand, the bride-to-be stating that she was "just coming down to earth" and reporting that Charles had gotten down on one knee to pop the question. ("Of course," she said. "What else?")
    Video: The night the engagement was announced
    Camilla proudly showed off her large engagement ring, a design (according to multiple reports at the time) of a central square-cut diamond flanked on either side by three diamond baguettes and set in platinum. It was confirmed to be a royal heirloom, and was later shown to have been in the collection of the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Charles' grandmother.
    Queen Elizabeth wears the ring
    Exactly how the ring came to be in Queen Elizabeth's collection is a matter of speculation. Various reports have dated the piece from the 1920s or 1930s; some have said it was a gift from her husband to celebrate the birth of their first child (Princess Elizabeth, the current queen), while others have placed it as part of the Greville bequest (the jewels inherited by Queen Elizabeth from Mrs. Ronald Greville in 1942). Like the rest of The Queen Mother's jewels, it most likely was inherited by The Queen in 2002 and then given to Charles after that. The ring is now worn daily by Camilla alongside her gold wedding band. The rings exchanged by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are made from Welsh gold, as is the royal family's tradition, and were created by Wartski jewelers (appropriately, a firm with roots in Wales).
    This is one of the larger engagement rings in the main royal family, and it is often cited as one of the (if not the) most valuable ones, using purely speculative figures, of course. But despite the large stones, it doesn't feel overpowering; the simple Art Deco design makes for the perfect showcase for these diamonds (and makes it one of my personal favorite royal engagement rings).

    Appearances: Since these are worn every day, individual appearances will not be catalogued here.

    Photos: via Getty Images

    26 March 2015

    Visit to Kent

    The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, visited Capel-le-Ferne and Canterbury Cathedral, Kent. She opened a new Battle of Britain visitor center and at Canterbury Cathedral, the couple attended a service and unveiled statues of themselves created for the Diamond Jubilee.

    For more: BBC article, KentOnline video, Zimbio gallery.
    She wore one of Queen Victoria's brooches on the day the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 goes into effect, giving women an equal spot in the line of succession. It's one of her regulars anyway, obviously, but I prefer to consider it a cheeky sovereign queen high five.
    And speaking of the line of succession, Prince Michael of Kent was there to greet her (in the first photo). He's one of the people who have been freshly reinstated in the line thanks to the act removing the ban on marriage to Catholics. (And he's also Patron of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, hence the appearance.)

    Also, about those statues...well, I believe we have the George IV State Diadem, the Coronation Earrings, and the Mantle and Collar of the Order of the Garter here. So that part's recognizable. (Not that I should be critiquing, I mean, if you gave me a block of stone and asked me to carve you something, you'd get the same block of stone back with a couple chicken scratches on it. If you were lucky.)

    Photos:via Getty Images and KentOnline video

    25 March 2015

    Audiences at Buckingham Palace

    The Queen held audiences at Buckingham Palace.
    For more: Zimbio gallery.
     She's giving us a flashback to her last Christmas message outfit, minus the fancier necklace and earrings. And minus the purple Christmas ornament background, which is the saddest omission this time around.

    Photo:WPA Pool via Getty Images

    24 March 2015

    Queen Victoria's Emerald Fringe Earrings

    Queen Victoria's Emerald Fringe Earrings
    Coming to The Queen via the collection of Queen Victoria, these earrings feature an emerald drop in a thick diamond frame with a bottom trim of articulated diamond fringe. A single diamond stud and a petite diamond bow sit at the top of each earring. According to Leslie Field's book The Queen's Jewels, they were bought in April of 1850 by Victoria and left to the Crown in her will.
    Queen Alexandra dressed for her coronation (left and detail, center), and The Queen
    A jewel-encrusted Queen Alexandra used both of them as pendants, suspending them from two of Queen Victoria's Bow Brooches, and pinned them at the bottom of her skirt for her coronation with husband Edward VII in 1902. They likely passed to The Queen with most of the rest of the Crown heirlooms when she came to the throne in 1952, and she has worn them occasionally (particularly in combination with the Godman Necklace).

    Photos: Tatler, Wikimedia Commons, Corbis

    23 March 2015

    Flashback: State Visit from Mexico, 2009

    This year's state banquet for the visiting Mexican president didn't give us anything in the way of color for The Queen - white dress, white jewels, gold collar. Same old, same old. But the last incoming state visit from Mexico, for President Felipe Calderón from March 30-April 2, 2009, certainly did provide a more colorful banquet moment.
    For the arrival ceremony (above), she stuck to her standards in the form of the Queen Mother's Shell Brooch and a hat that will never not be Madeleine to me.

    And for the banquet, a dose of aquamarine!
    The Brazilian Aquamarine Parure is on full display here, with the tiara, necklace, earrings, and bracelet. All she was missing was the brooch. Just like the 2015 banquet, she wore the golden Grand Collar of the Order of the Aztec Eagle from Mexico, but unlike 2015, she also added the Star of the Order of the Garter. (She seems to be decreasing the levels of insignia she wears for state banquets as the years go on, not that I can blame her. Can't be that comfy to wear.)
    The Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara is not a favorite for me, but at this point, any dash of color is most welcome.

    To finish out the trip, she waved farewell to the President and First Lady wearing what I believe is the Pearl Trefoil Brooch.

    The state visit coincided with the G-20 London Summit, which brought President Calderón to town in the first place.
    President and Mrs. Obama got an audience prior to the reception The Queen hosted at Buckingham Palace and Mrs. O hugged Her Maj (well, sort of), which seemed to bother a whole lot of people who aren't HM and didn't seem to bother HM at all. As tends to be the case.
    But never mind that, this warrants a mention in this flashback for one important reason: the Williamson Pink Diamond Brooch! Those world leaders didn't even know how lucky they were, getting a first hand glimpse of one of my favorite royal brooches.

    Photos: via Getty Images as indicated, White House/Pete Souza via Wikimedia Commons

    21 March 2015

    The Godman Necklace

    Frederick DuCane Godman (1834-1919) was an English naturalist who was a member of the Royal Society and a trustee of the British Museum. His wealthy family background allowed him to travel the world, and the spoils of one of those travels ended up linking his name to the jewel collection of Queen Elizabeth II.
    The Godman Necklace
    In a tale told by Leslie Field in The Queen's Jewels, while on holiday in Bavaria in the 1890s, Godman purchased this magnificent diamond and emerald necklace. The piece has seven pendants, each with a central emerald in a scrolling diamond surround, hanging from a foliate diamond base studded with three additional emeralds. The original story of the necklace's provenance tied it to Empress Joséphine, first wife of Napoleon I. Joséphine's son, Eugène de Beauharnais, married Princess Augusta of Bavaria and settled there after Napoleon's downfall, so it was not out of the question that one of her jewels would end up in Bavaria. Godman gave the necklace to his two daughters, Eva Mary and Catherine Edith, and in 1965, they decided that they might like The Queen to have it. They wrote to the Lord Chamberlain and told him they had a piece of jewelry that might be of interest due to its possible provenance, and the palace sent the Surveyor of the Queen's Works of Art to check it out. A thorough investigation turned up no evidence to validate the ties to Empress Joséphine, but the Godman sisters still wanted to give their gift and The Queen liked the necklace enough to accept. It is rare for her to accept gifts in this fashion, but apparently an exception can be made for something this extraordinary.
    It certainly is an eye-catching piece; I receive more requests for information on this necklace than just about any other item in Her Majesty's jewel vault. The sisters were thanked in a private audience and The Queen has fulfilled their one request, that she wear the piece occasionally. The connection to Empress Joséphine may have been false, but the necklace has been used for some French events, such as a dinner during the 1984 French state visit, and a banquet at Windsor Castle to celebrate the centenary of the Entente Cordiale in 2004. That banquet was filmed for the documentary Windsor Castle: A Royal Year (a clip can be seen here), and the sparkle of these diamonds and emeralds is truly spectacular. I believe that was the last time the necklace was seen in public.

    Photos: Field/British Monarchy/Corbis/BBC video

    20 March 2015

    The HMS Ocean Brooch

    The HMS Ocean Brooch
    The Queen is Lady Sponsor of the HMS Ocean, a Royal Navy amphibious assault ship and helicopter carrier. When visiting the ship on March 20, 2015 to mark its rededication, she wore this new brooch. To quote the British Monarchy:
    The Queen's brooch is a gift from the Captain and Officers of HMS Ocean. Its design is derived from the ship's badge, and depicts Oceanus rising from the waves brandishing a trident.
    The ship's badge
    The brooch was designed and made by Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, who chose elements from the ship's badge to create a wearable brooch. The rope detail outlines the bottom of the brooch, with three tridents raising up from the waves. Consultation from the ship's officers was taken into account along the way, resulting in a brooch made of bright polished sterling silver with sapphires pave set into the waves and intricate detailing to make it come alive. The piece was handmade by the HK Bespoke Jewellery team in Hertfordshire.
    This is a nicely stylized interpretation, and no doubt a gift appreciated by The Queen, who has made several visits to the ship since its initial dedication and is kept up to date on its activities.

    Thank you to HK Bespoke Jewellery for sharing the story behind this brooch, and to A Petite Princess for calling attention to it! You can read more about the design and creation process at the HK site, and APP has a post about the brooch too. 

    20 March 2015: HMS Ocean Rededication 

    Photos: Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, Wikimedia Commons, and via Getty Images

    HMS Ocean Rededication

    The Queen visited the HMS Ocean to celebrate its rededication at HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth, Devon.
    Absolutely fabulous color (a coat and crepe dress by Stewart Parvin - do I spy some color blocking in there? - and a hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan), and a new brooch! It's a banner day. More on the new addition here.

    Photos: Samir Hussein/Wire Image via Getty Images, ITN video screencap

    19 March 2015

    Investiture at Buckingham Palace

    The Queen held an Investiture at Buckingham Palace.
    Today in Awkward Moments in Investiture History: Dame Kristin Scott Thomas was asked by Her Majesty what she'll be doing next, to which she had to reply that she would next be playing...well, Queen Elizabeth II, because she'll be taking over Dame Helen Mirren's role in the play The Audience. According to the newly minted DBE, The Queen responded that "it would be quite a challenge." INDEED.

    Photo:Sky News screencap via Yahoo

    18 March 2015

    Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Reception

    The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, hosted a reception for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust at Buckingham Palace.
    For more: Belfast Telegraph article.
    Would've thought she'd keep the Cambridge Emerald on from earlier in the day, but no! She goes for a Cullinan - and it's looking particularly large tonight.

    Photo:WPA Pool via Getty Images

    Audiences at Buckingham Palace

    The Queen held audiences at Buckingham Palace. The Duke of Cambridge was also present.
    For more: Zimbio gallery, Hello article.
    Well now, this is interesting: Prince William's informal king-in-waiting training continues as he watches his granny receiving credentials from ambassadors for the first time. The PA did say that he does not intend to carry out audiences on her behalf in the future, just that he is observing.
    Also interesting, to this blog at least, is that HM has once again returned the pendant to the bottom of the Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch. We always love that, don't we?

    P.S.: The Queen's not done for the day. She has an evening reception to attend, so we'll be back later.

    Photos: WPA Pool via Getty Images

    17 March 2015

    Battersea Dogs and Cats Home Visit and Audiences at Buckingham Palace

    The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh opened the new Mary Tealby dog kennels at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, London.
    For more: YouTube video, ITV article and video, Zimbio gallery.
    So, the Battersea Home put on a canine guard of honor for Her Maj's visit today.
    A CANINE GUARD OF HONOR, GUYS. Well, I'd wager this has already made the list for her personal favorite engagements of the year.

    Updated to add...
    The Queen also held audiences at Buckingham Palace.
    For more: Zimbio gallery.
    This looks like the Cullinan V. Hard to see as always, but I'll go with that.

    Photo:WPA Pool via Getty Images, ITN video

    13 March 2015

    Afghanistan Service of Commemoration

    The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family, attended a Service of Commemoration at St. Paul's Cathedral to mark the end of British combat operations in Afghanistan and in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the conflict.
    BBC video screencaps
    I like days when the major members of the family turn out in their very best, uniforms included, and I'm glad this event in particular brought that out. I'm also very glad to see Her Majesty heading up the royal contingent, after initial doubt regarding her attendance. It wouldn't have felt right for her not to head up this group.

    Queen Victoria's 11 Pearl Brooch, left to the Crown by Victoria herself, seems a suitably important and large piece for the occasion. The Queen does get in the habit of repeating certain brooches with certain outfits, and this is a combo we've seen previously.

    The Duke of Edinburgh was very dashing in his fancy Admiral of the Fleet naval dress uniform, (adorably) offering a helping hand to his wife as they made their way down the steps of St. Paul's.

    (We'll be rounding up the remainder of the family members here, as opposed to the other blog, so settle in for a lengthy post...)
    MOD/Crown Copyright
    The Queen and The Duke departed after the service, and The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall led an array of royals in watching the parade and attending receptions. I always find it interesting to look at the jewels and clothes (including uniforms) at these types of events. It's not the point - far from it, obviously - but I like to see how the different services are represented and it's nice to pick out some small details that have special meaning among those that aren't in uniform. The Duchess of Cornwall is the best example of this:

    The Prince of Wales wore his Field Marshal's Army uniform, and The Duchess has a uniform of her own, a coat made for military engagements in its styling and particularly in its buttons, which bear the emblem of The Rifles. Camilla is the Royal Colonel of the 4th Battalion, and she also has their badge perched on her hat.

    The Duke of Cambridge wore his RAF uniform, and The Duchess of Cambridge coordinated with his blues in a very elegant new navy coat from Beulah London with her navy hat and gorgeous chignon.

    Kate was also sporting some new jewelry, a pendant and earrings made from inverted pear-shaped tanzanite stones surrounded by diamonds and set in platinum. These pieces come from G. Collins and Sons, personal jewelers to The Queen and home of the former Crown Jeweler (pendant here, similar earrings here; identification per the My Small Obsessions Facebook). A lovely shade of purple-y blue in these stones, and a really nice choice for this outfit.

    Prince Harry wore the dress uniform of the Household Cavalry. Harry is of course an Afghanistan vet himself, and his medals include one from the Afghanistan campaign.

    The Duke of York was in his naval dress uniform and The Earl of Wessex wore the dress uniform of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, of which he is Royal Honorary Colonel.

    The Countess of Wessex wore a new black and white Oscar de la Renta dress with a full skirt and asymmetrical hemline (identification per the Countess of Wessex blog) under a short black jacket with a Jane Taylor hat. I love the use of a print to liven up a plain black outfit, and concentrating the black on top made it a great canvas for her own special touch: a Rifles badge, similar to Camilla's. Sophie is the Royal Colonel of the 5th Battalion.

    The Princess Royal was at her best (as always) in her dress uniform from the Blues and Royals, of which she is Colonel. Her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, was another member of the family in a naval dress uniform.

    And two more members of the uniform crew to finish us out, The Dukes of Kent and Gloucester, in (respectively) Army and RAF uniforms.

    Photos: As indicated

    12 March 2015

    Audience at Buckingham Palace

    The Queen held several audiences at Buckingham Palace.
    This pearl is so big, it's an easy identification even from a side view. Gotta love that Cambridge Pearl. (And how nice of her to wear it on a day when I'm featuring mega pearls on the other blog! So considerate.)

    Photo:WPA Pool via Getty Images

    11 March 2015

    London Symphony Orchestra Reception and Queen's Medal for Music Presentation

    The Queen held a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark the end of the 'Moving Music' campaign and the long association of conductor Michael Tilson Thomas with the London Symphony Orchestra. She also presented Simon Halsey with the 2014 Queen's Medal for Music.
     For more: Zimbio gallery, Western Daily Press article.
    A fancy little dress for this evening reception, but worn with her standard day jewels. It looks like she has a massive brooch on...but I don't think so. This dress was also worn during her state visit to Turkey in 2008, when the same "brooch" was present:

    Turkey, 2008
    And if you look closely, it appears to be some type of appliqué (Swarovski crystals, perhaps) rather than a brooch of precious gems. Plus, it seems confined to this dress. A bit of a fake out, not unlike her appliqué at a state dinner in Ireland.
    Still like this dress, though. It comes with its own built in mini cape!

    Photos: WPA Pool and Anwar Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images

    Audience at Buckingham Palace

    The Queen received the President of Sri Lanka, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, and his wife, Jayanthi, for an audience at Buckingham Palace.
    Exciting! The Queen came prepped and ready to get in the Sri Lanka mood in her Sri Lankan Flower Spray Brooch, given to her while on a state visit there in 1981. We haven't seen this brooch since 2011, and I always manage to forget just how HUGE it is between wearings. A nice change after some appearances where we could scarcely see the brooch on display, right?

    Photos: WPA Pool via Getty Images

    10 March 2015

    Britannia Naming Ceremony

    The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, named the new P&O cruise ship Britannia in Southampton.
    For more: BBC video and article, Zimbio gallery.
    I like to think the dynamic duo up there are considering whether they could hijack this ship as payment for that other Britannia that was taken from them. Anyway - theft plotting aside - this is never my favorite color, but it is a nice choice for a sherbert-y day by the seaside in the sunshine.

    Photos: Chris Jackson via Getty Images, BBC Video