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