29 December 2015

2015: The Year in The Queen's Jewels

It's time for our fourth annual review of The Queen's year in jewels! (Previously, if you're curious: 2014, 2013, 2012.) Once again, it's been a year topped by favorite pieces of jewelry, but we've had plenty of rarities and surprises along the way to keep us jewel watchers satisfied.

The Most Popular Brooches 
The Queen wore more than sixty different brooches and badges this year. Still, the old guard of favorites top the list of the ones she wore the most. (The usual disclaimer: these are my totals from the public events covered here for which we could agree on a brooch identification, and are undoubtedly non-comprehensive.)
  1. Cullinan V Brooch 
  2. Queen Victoria's Bow Brooch tied with The Queen Mother's Palm Leaf Brooch
  3. Frosted Sunflower Brooch tied with Aquamarine Clip Brooches 
  4. Cambridge Pearl Pendant Brooch tied with Jardine Star Brooch tied with Pearl Trefoil Brooch tied with Queen Victoria's 11 Pearl Brooch tied with Prince Albert's Sapphire Brooch tied with Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch
Some of these are veterans of the few year-end favorites lists we've done here, while others (Albert's Sapphire, the Cambridge Emerald, Queen Victoria's 11 Pearl) are pleasant surprises. The Cullinan V Brooch has been a favorite of The Queen's throughout her reign, but it's making a first appearance on our list - a triumphant return to the top with eight appearances for the year.

The New and "New" Brooches 
Several brooch debuts - those with first public appearances, apparent first public appearances, and first public appearances on The Queen specifically - spiced up the usual selections:

The Most Significant Brooch of the Year
The lusciousness of the Crown Ruby Brooch and another rare appearance of Queen Alexandra's Wedding Parure Brooch were my personal favorites, but Queen Victoria's Bow Brooch on the day The Queen took over as the longest-reigning sovereign is not to be denied. With a bonus appearance on the day the changes to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 went into effect (while wearing the same outfit, I've just noticed), I'm naming Queen Victoria's Bow Brooch as the most significant pick of the year.

The Tiara Appearances 

My Favorite Jewel Trend of the Year: The Return of the Colored Gems!
Would you look at that colorful selection above? Rubies! Sapphires! Emeralds! The Queen's been on a run of all-white jewels to match her white gowns for several years, but my favorite thing in 2015 has to be the return of a little color to the gala stage. It does make things a little more interesting around here.

My Second Favorite Jewel Trend of the Year: The Continued Opening of the Vault
In last year's review, I mentioned a couple significant loans of jewelry to The Duchess of Cambridge and asked for more. Her Majesty certainly delivered: The Duchess of Cambridge added Queen Mary's Diamond Choker Bracelet, The Queen's Wedding Gift Bracelet, The Queen Mother's Sapphire Tassel Earrings, and the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara to her list of loans this year. Enough that I created a still-in-progress page here to track the Kate-specific loans. Can we keep it up in 2016, and keep spreading it around to other family members? Fingers crossed, everyone...

What was your favorite sparkly moment in The Queen's year?

Photos: Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II, via Getty Images, FEI, Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, BBC video, British Moanrchy video, British Monarchy Twitter, Parliament video

27 December 2015

Church at Sandringham

The Queen and members of the Royal Family attended church at Sandringham, Norfolk.
For more: Photos at PopSugar.
Making one last appearance for the year, the Singapore Peranakan Diamond Jubilee Brooch continues its run of popularity with four known appearances in both 2014 and 2015. Not bad for a 2012 gift.

25 December 2015

Christmas Service and Christmas Broadcast, 2015

Merry Christmas! We'll be chatting about the various fashions on display at the annual Windsor walk to church at the other blog over the weekend, but first we'll cover our interests here:

The Queen, accompanied by members of the Royal Family, attended Christmas service at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham.

In a surprising turn of events, The Queen managed to be one of the least bejeweled ladies in the family for Christmas service! Even The Duchess of Cambridge wore a brooch today (one that she first wore in 2012, and which may be in her personal collection - as far as I know, it is not a loaned piece), but Her Maj rolled up broochless in cozy Christmas red with fur trim. Her regular daytime selection of jewels was also all that was on display for the day's earlier service. I cannot lie, I was a little disappointed...but my spirits were lifted by her brooch selection for the Christmas speech. Read on...

Queen Mary's Button Earrings

Given QEII's jewel restraint, I was pleased to see that The Duchess of Cornwall was properly decked out for the Christmas service.

Her Diamond Moth Brooch was a debuted earlier this year (and we'll cover it in the new year!), and she threw on the larger of her two diamond clasp pearl chokers for a little extra festive flair. Her Everyday Pearl Pendant Earrings completed the look with an outfit that ranks among my favorites.

The Queen's annual message was broadcast on Christmas Day.

As always, there's meaning to be found in everything The Queen wears and in her surroundings for her Christmas speech. The portraits at her side are of the present and future leaders of the family (a shot of the Cambridge family from Princess Charlotte's christening, a wedding photo of The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, a casual photo of herself with The Duke of Edinburgh), and her brooch reminds of us the last generation: The Queen Mother's Art Deco Aquamarine Brooch. It's not a piece that many would find instantly recognizable as a member of the late Queen Elizabeth's collection, making it a subtle yet significant choice for this speech, just as it was for the VE Day commemoration events earlier this year.

The brooch really stands out in contrast to the gold in the 18th Century Room at Buckingham Palace and on the light background of her Angela Kelly tweed outfit. The Queen also wore her usual selection of day jewels, with what looks to be her larger pair of pearl and diamond button earrings.

Engagement and Wedding Rings 

Photos:via Getty Images

22 December 2015

2015: The Duchess of Cornwall's Year in Tiaras

We added The Duchess of Cornwall's jewels to our scope here earlier this year, as she and The Prince of Wales were approaching their tenth wedding anniversary. I've loved sharing a few of her favorites with you, and I'm looking forward to more in 2016!

It turned out to be a good year to kick things off, with a few "bonus" tiara appearances beyond the traditional state events. We don't cover all of her events, and we didn't capture her entire year in new gems here. But we have covered all of her tiara appearances, and we're going to round them up right now:

British Monarchy video screencap
March: State Visit from Mexico, State Banquet
She kicked things off in classic style, attending the first state banquet of the year in the Greville Tiara and her Four Strand Pearl Choker with Large Diamond Clasp with her favorite pair of pearl earrings. Wearing a dress she's used for the State Opening of Parliament in the past, this kicked off a run of white tiara appearances for the year.

House of Lords 2015/Roger Harris/UK Parliament Flickr via Creative Commons 2.0
May: State Opening of Parliament
The same jewel combo made a repeat for the State Opening of Parliament, but she did wear an interesting geometric brooch to anchor her Royal Victorian Order sash at her shoulder.

June: Royal Academy of Arts Dinner
Completing her run of State Opening-worthy appearances with the same pearl set and the same white dress worn in March, she made the first of those "bonus" tiara appearances at a Royal Academy of Arts event. This was the only tiara appearance of the year not to feature the Greville Tiara (she went instead with her family diadem, the Cubitt-Shand Tiara), so it was a bonus in more than one way.

June: The Duke of Wellington's Waterloo Banquet
June ended up being a prosperous tiara month, as Camilla returned to her favorite diadem to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo at Apsley House. This also counts as a bonus tiara event in more than one way, delivering her second appearance in the magnificent Greville Festoon Necklace, which she wore with her Diamond Pear Drop Demi-Parure Earrings.  It was her most sparkling appearance of the year.
November: Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Dinner
The Duchess wrapped things up in Malta with that trusty Greville Tiara and her Five Strand Pearl Choker with Pink Topaz Clasp and Pink Topaz and Diamond Earrings. On sheer diamond power alone, I'd be tempted to name the Waterloo Banquet as my favorite of her 2015 tiara appearances, but pairing my beloved pink topaz gems beautifully with a soft gray dress might just sneak in to steal the title. 

So: Five! That's not shabby at all, especially when you consider that she missed two of her usual tiara opportunities (she and The Prince of Wales did not attend the Chinese State Banquet and, she had to pull out of the Diplomatic Reception due to neck and back issues). Still, I am ever greedy for more, and I can't help but cross my fingers for just a little bit more variety in 2016.

Which will you crown the best tiara moment for The Duchess of Cornwall in 2015? 

P.S...It's not a tiara appearance, and it happened before we were covering Camilla on this blog, but no review of her year in jewels would be complete without this:
February: Royal Film Performance of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Ah! This must be why she avoided colored stones in so many of her tiara appearances this year; see, she wore them ALL AT ONCE, right off the bat. She debuted this extravagant set in February, and while we haven't covered this massive set here, I discussed possible origins when I covered this appearance on the other blog. She can pull this stuff off like no other, that's for sure.

20 December 2015

Church at Sandringham

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh attended church at Sandringham, Norfolk
The link in the tweet above shows her brooch, which continues her recent run of aquamarine brooches beyond her favorite clips. This one's from her mother, and I think it might be my favorite of her aqua pins. It's the fourth time she's worn it since debuting it last year, and you can (as always) read more in the link below.

17 December 2015

Train to Sandringham

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh traveled to Sandringham for the Christmas holiday.
Christmas time is really here when Her Maj heads off to Sandringham, and this year, she's done so with a bonus brooch delight! I have simply called this one the "Small Aquamarine Brooch" here (my creativity knows no bounds); it's actually a pretty big stone from a side view, but it has a knack for appearing small when worn. This is more of a rare pick, and the second time we've seen it in use since the blog started.

Photo: via Getty Images

12 December 2015

The Duchess of Cornwall's Pink Topaz Choker and Earrings

With a big pink stone right at its heart and a gorgeous pair of earrings to match, The Duchess of Cornwall's Five Strand Pearl Choker with Pink Topaz Clasp is my personal favorite member of her extensive pearl necklace collection. The clasp features an oval pink topaz stone surrounded by a ring of diamonds in a delicate scrolling design and a ring of collet-set diamonds on the outside. She also has matching earrings, each with an oval pink topaz in a foliate diamond design. The diamonds used in the pieces are rose and cushion-cut.
The Duchess of Cornwall's Five Strand Pearl Choker with Pink Topaz Clasp
We know some of the details of the history of this set, and other details have been assumed. It has been widely reported that the jewels were a gift from The Prince of Wales (some have even said they were his wedding gift to her); while I agree with that assumption, I do not believe that it has been officially confirmed. What we know is that the pink topaz and diamond center, which had a detachable brooch setting, and the earrings were sold at a Sotheby's auction in June 2000 for £22,925.
At auction
According to the auction notes, the pieces date from the 1830s and are thought to have once been part of a larger jewel such as a tiara or necklace. Many have assumed they were purchased directly from Sotheby's by The Prince of Wales, but they were not worn publicly by The Duchess until several years later.
Wearing both choker and earrings

They have certainly been in The Duchess of Cornwall's collection since at least 2006. The earrings were worn to a dinner in Pakistan that year. The necklace was first worn in a longer version with the clasp at the side before being shortened to the choker style we know today. The current format was first seen on The Duchess at the May 2008 wedding of Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly.
Wearing the necklace with her Everyday Pearl Pendant Earrings
The set has been worn for both evening and day engagements; day engagements are more likely to be high-profile royal events (weddings, Trooping the Colour, Royal Ascot, etc.) instead of regular day-to-day appearances. As she often does with her demi-parures, Camilla regularly wears the earrings and choker separately. With such a wonderful color in the pink stones and such a regal setting, any appearance of the set is guaranteed to get a rave review from me.

Appearances (of necklace only, unless otherwise noted):
23 October 2018: State Visit from The Netherlands, State Banquet 
20 June 2017: Royal Ascot, Day 1
15 May 2016: The Queen's 90th Birthday Celebration at Windsor
12 May 2016: Buckingham Palace Garden Party
27 November 2015: Visit to Malta, Day 2, CHOGM Dinner (with earrings)
18 June 2014: Royal Ascot, Day 2 (with earrings)
14 June 2014: Trooping the Colour
12 June 2010: Trooping the Colour

Appearances include those from the date the entry was published, and only those featured on the blog previously.

Photos: National Assembly For Wales / Cynulliad Cymru Flickr via Creative Commons License 2.0 (first and last images, cropped), Sotheby's, and via Getty Images

09 December 2015

Audiences at Buckingham Palace

The Queen held several audiences at Buckingham Palace
I believe this is a side view of Prince Albert's Sapphire, and I have a whole scenario worked up in my head where the Ambassador from the Gabonese Republic here noticed the sapphire wonder right before this shot was taken. (I mean, I'm sure Madam Ambassador has more pressing things to notice, but you know.)

Photo: via Getty Images

08 December 2015

The Duchess of Cambridge at the Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace

The annual Diplomatic Reception (a tiara event) was held at Buckingham Palace tonight with senior members of the Royal Family present. This is an event for which we scarcely ever get inside pictures, but from those spotted going to and fro in their cars, we got a BIG surprise... 

The Duchess of Cambridge in the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (a.k.a. Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara)! I honestly thought we'd have a long time to wait to see this baby in use again, and I love it so. Hang on, I need a few more exclamation points here...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

My updated entry on this tiara is here; it also has its own entry on this blog here. It was made for Queen Mary and modeled after a tiara worn by her grandmother, Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge. It was inherited by The Queen, who wore it before loaning it to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who made it a signature piece. It returned to The Queen, and she has now loaned it to Kate.

This makes three loaned tiaras from The Queen in just four tiara occasions for The Duchess, which is impressive. Plus, giving this a "soft opening" of sorts - at an event which is mainly private, and where she debuted the Lotus Flower Tiara in 2013 - might just be a brilliant way to introduce the piece, to help get the "Diana's tiara" business over with before a bigger state event. 

Oh, and also on loan from The Queen: The Duchess of Cambridge's diamond earrings, which she's been wearing since 2011. We haven't featured those yet. Kate also appears to be wearing the same Alexander McQueen gown she wore to her first Diplomatic Reception in 2013, and we still have not seen a full shot of that.

 I read that The Duchess of Cornwall would be attending this event as well, but she wasn't in the car with The Prince of Wales and I haven't seen a picture of her. (Update: Court Circular confirms that she was not in attendance, and aides say she had to pull out because of neck and shoulder pains.) And since there are usually no interior photos released, we have no way of knowing what The Queen wore. This is one year where what we can see is feast enough!

Update #2: For video of the reception and a better look at the tiara on Kate, see here.

Photos: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

07 December 2015

The Malta Aquamarine Brooch

The Malta Aquamarine Brooch
Featuring an oval aquamarine stone with a diamond setting and a larger diamond surround, The Queen debuted this brooch when opening the 2015 session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta.
The name I am using here, the Malta Aquamarine Brooch, refers to that location and not to a known provenance. Queen Mary wore* a brooch which could be a match, with a similar shape and basic design. It's an interesting potential provenance, since Queen Mary was not regularly associated with aquamarine stones, and she appears to be wearing a brooch with another colored stone in the photo. The first appearance of the brooch has naturally prompted speculation of a connection to either Malta or the Commonwealth, although The Queen more frequently wears brooches without such a connection to this event. Officially, the origin of this lovely and dainty brooch remains unconfirmed.

*This was noticed in a photograph posted by Beth at the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board in March 2016, and the Malta Brooch resemblance was pointed out by Brock. Thanks to them both.

29 May 2019: Audience at Buckingham Palace
27 November 2015: Visit to Malta, CHOGM Opening Ceremony

Photos: CHOGM Malta Flickr/DOI-Omar Camilleri/via Getty Images

04 December 2015

Investiture at Windsor Castle and Audience

The Queen held an Investiture at Windsor Castle.
For more: Guardian article.
My first thought is The Queen Mother's Palm Leaf Brooch. What do you think? UPDATE: And yes, it is indeed the Palm Leaf (with thanks to @TheRoyalExpert).
See video from BBC Midlands here

I missed one yesterday, so thanks to those that let me know:

December 3: The Queen held audiences at Buckingham Palace.
For more: Zimbio gallery.
And this one, happily, is clear as day: it's the Amethyst Bouquet Brooch.

Photos:BBC Midlands video screencap, and via Twitter and Getty Images

03 December 2015

St. Columba's Church Anniversary and State Visit Announcement

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited St. Columba's Church of Scotland, Knightsbridge, London to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the church's rededication.
Two appearances doesn't make a trend, but it sure would be grand if the recent appearance of the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara in its green version plus this Cambridge emerald brooch was the start of an emerald one (probably not, but a jewel lover can dream). Still, greedy me can't help but note that I miss the pendant on this brooch very much here.

A general news update, while we're at it...
 The first tiara occasion of 2016 has just been announced, and it's a doozy: King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain are coming for a state visit! Windsor Castle, March 8-10, mark your calendars. The last state visits exchanged between the countries were in 1986 (when Spain came to the UK) and 1988 (when the UK went to Spain). Rest assured, I have my jumpy claps at the ready.

Update: The Queen also held audiences today, see here.

Photo: WPA Pool via Getty Images

02 December 2015

Audiences at Buckingham Palace

The Queen held several audiences at Buckingham Palace.
Add another color to the rainbow of dresses that coordinate exceptionally well with this room. Orange and Queen Victoria's Bow is a throwback to Christmas 2013; in fact, this looks like the dress that was under that coat.

Photo: WPA Pool via Getty Images