30 August 2016

The Duchess of Cornwall's Orange Stone and Diamond Brooch

The Duchess of Cornwall wearing her Orange Stone and Diamond Brooch
On the second day of Royal Ascot 2007, The Duchess of Cornwall arrived to the races wearing a lovely embellished cream coat and dress. Her hat was as big as ever, but the real showstopping accessory of the day was the massive brooch pinned on her shoulder. This elegant brooch is centered around a large oval stone of a deep orange color, surrounded by diamond scrolls and dotted with single diamonds.

This, so far, has been the brooch's only known appearance, and details are nonexistent. The type of orange stone is unconfirmed; popular guesses include citrine or maybe a vibrant cairngorm (a wealth of other guesses are represented in the comments below, as well). Provenance is also unconfirmed, but given that a large percentage of Camilla's loaned jewels originated with the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother - combined with the impressive size and antique look of the piece - it may be another previously unknown piece from the late queen consort's stash. For now, I'd just like to see it worn again.

27 August 2016

Flashback: The Wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, 1973

Perhaps I have simply been too drawn to Princess Anne’s wedding gown – worn for her first wedding, to Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey on November 14, 1973 – to really notice what was going on with The Queen’s outfit at this event. After all, the wedding dress by Maureen Baker of Susan Small is a fascinating creation, so striking and unique. The tiara catches my eye too, of course; Anne followed in her mother's footsteps by borrowing Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, one of the best of the classic fringe models.

TrendingNow screencaps
So maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but I always wondered why The Queen’s outfit seemed a more "everyday" choice than outfits she would sport for close family weddings later on. The jewelry, at least, feels that way: the Dorset Bow Brooch would be an unusual choice today, when it is primarily used as a poppy holder, but it was a much more popular selection in her earlier years.

TrendingNow screencaps
(Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, on the other hand, was in full cozy splendor, with what looks to be a diamond clip on her hat and Queen Victoria’s Fringe Brooch on her coat.)

Royal Collection Trust
The Queen's hat was very much typical of the time, designed by Simone Mirman with blue and purple lace draped on the back. On display, however, there is much more to The Queen’s whole outfit than I realized from photos and video of the event.

These pieces are showcases for diamond inset details, precision work from the atelier of Norman Hartnell. Done all in blue silk and emphasized with diamond shapes at the coat fastening, the cuts are subtle enough to fade from afar – and indeed, I never realized they were there, leading to my impression that this was a much plainer outfit than it really was. (But if those insets were in a contrasting color, they’d take this right into harlequin territory, so it was a clever choice.) Just another example of a close up bringing an outfit into a new light.

For more video of the wedding, click here.

This outfit is on display at Buckingham Palace's summer exhibition, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe, open now through October 2, 2016.

16 August 2016

The Perth Bridge Opening Brooch

The Perth Bridge Opening Brooch
On October 10, 1960, The Queen opened the new Queen's Bridge in Perth, Scotland, and was presented with a brooch as a gift. The brooch is described in Leslie Field's The Queen's Jewels as "a miniature flower bouquet with seven amethyst buds surrounded by white and yellow gold ferns and grasses, with a central group of twelve freshwater mauve-tinted pearls from the River Tay."

Based on that description, the brooch has often been misidentified as the Amethyst Bouquet Brooch, which includes seven amethysts but does not otherwise match the description. The actual Perth Bridge Opening Brooch is instead the one pictured here.

The video above shows The Queen being presented with the brooch, and admiring it at length. This alternate footage displays the brooch.

At the Windsor Horse Show, 1995 
The Perth Bridge Opening Brooch has only rarely been worn in public by The Queen. This is an intricate design, and the delicate sprays almost disappear, so it's not an easy identification. I suspect we haven't really seen it worn to its greatest effect.

Thanks to Franck for sending in information about this brooch!

Photos: National Library of Scotland screencaps, via Getty Images as indicated

08 August 2016

Balmoral Holiday, 2016

The Queen arrived at Balmoral in July and stayed at another property on the estate while the castle was still open for visitors, making her official arrival in August. As we have done in the past during Her Majesty's official summer holiday, we'll gather any sightings during the break in this post.

A link for this post will be on the sidebar under Recently Updated Events and it will include the date of the last update, so you can find it any time and don't miss anything. (And if you see I've missed one, help me out and drop a comment below!)

We have some other fun stuff to cover while she's hidden away, so stay tuned...

September 18: NEW! Sunday church, and a golden brooch I can't quite identify. The Queen also hosted new Prime Minister Theresa May for a Balmoral visit. 

September 11: Sunday church, but no brooch. The Queen has also been pictured driving around the Balmoral estate with The Duchess of Cambridge and with Carole Middleton; pictures at the Daily Mail.

September 4: Sunday church again, this time with a pretty purple outfit and the Kent Amethyst Brooch.

September 3: The annual Braemar Gathering, covered here.

August 14: The Queen can be seen arriving at church in bright pink in this video.

August 8: Official arrival at Balmoral Castle, with a review of a Royal Guard from The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Royal Regiment of Scotland Badge rests on her natty suit.
Mark Owens/MOD/Crown Copyright
Plus, an opportunity to check in on Regimental Mascot Cruachan IV! A must for the start of any summer break.
Mark Owens/MOD/Crown Copyright

July 31: The Queen arrived at church in a hat that was, apparently, "the talk of the town". But no brooch visible.

July 24: The Queen arrived at church in a beige summer tweed. No brooch visible.

04 August 2016

Flashback: Olympic Opening Ceremonies, 1976 and 2012

The Queen has had the honor of opening the Olympic Games twice, in Montreal in 1976, and again in London in 2012. The outfits and jewels worn on those occasions reflect both the prominence of these events and the special challenges they present.

The Montreal Olympic Games of 1976 were a family affair. The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward all came to support Princess Anne, who was competing with the British equestrian team. As Queen of Canada, Her Majesty opened the Games wearing a light pink ensemble and a selection of diamonds and pearls.

AP screencaps
The Teck Corsage Brooch anchored the outfit, but the most special part may have been the necklaces. These look like the historic Queen Anne and Queen Caroline pearl necklaces, which The Queen also wore on her wedding day. (As always, I note how difficult it can be to tell her many strands of pearls apart.) She wore a petite watch, a gift from France, over one glove, as she often did in her earlier years.

The pink dress and silk crepe coat were by Hardy Amies, and the scene-stealing pink hat with stylized flowers dangling from silk stems was by Simone Mirman. The outfit would be worn the following year to the Service of Thanksgiving for The Queen's Silver Jubilee, sealing its place as one of the most memorable outfits of The Queen's reign.

An Olympic Opening Ceremony outfit needs to hit at least two important requirements, qualities found in that pink Montreal outfit and in the outfit worn decades later in London: it must be easily visible in a crowded stadium, and it must carefully avoid any colors or symbols that could tie it to a specific country.

The Queen's dress for the 2012 Opening Ceremony needed to have one additional important quality: it had to easily identify a Bond girl.
Olympics screencap
Two copies of this peach dress (one for Her Majesty, and one for a stunt double) were made in secrecy, so that "The Queen" could parachute into the Opening Ceremony with James Bond (Daniel Craig) for a truly epic entrance. The dress was designed by Angela Kelly, who wrote about the process of working with the Olympics Opening Ceremony creative team in her book, Dressing The Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe:
"The colour of the dress was also fundamental to the success of the sequence. We needed a solid colour that would stand out when The Queen descended towards the giant stadium, and within the setting of the stadium itself, which was a sea of colours. At the same time, care needed to be taken to choose a colour that was not associated strongly with any of the participating Olympic nations. Another important feature of the dress was its pleated skirt, which had to be identifiable as The Queen left the Palace so that it would be recognised as she descended from the helicopter, creating a visual sequence."
A headpiece of ostrich feathers with a cluster of small flowers, glass beads, and sequins accompanied the outfit. So did a bunch of diamonds, as The Queen used the evening occasion to dig into the vaults. A smaller diamond collet necklace dipped in and out of her neckline, and Queen Adelaide's Brooch sparkled away from her shoulder. She also wore diamond earrings, which are a bit hard to identify (Queen Mary's Cluster Earrings or Queen Mary's Diamond Collet Earrings, I assume).

The 2012 outfit has proven to be one of mixed opinions, as has that hat from 1976. But like them or not, they're both shining examples of how much thought and careful planning goes into The Queen's wardrobe.

Both outfits are on display at Buckingham Palace's summer exhibition, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe, open now through October 2, 2016. 

02 August 2016

The Diamond and Gold Cuff Demi-Parure

The Queen in 1992, wearing her Diamond and Gold Cuff Necklace, 
with the Greville Chandelier Earrings
There are several mystery pieces in The Queen's vault, jewels which have been worn in public only a couple of times and come without much to indicate a potential provenance. Here's one: a demi-parure of a matching necklace and bracelet, the necklace featuring vertical bars of diamonds creating a continuous sparkling cuff of diamonds, in a yellow gold setting. 
Royal Variety Performance, 1999, wearing the necklace and bracelet with a gold evening watch and a pair of earrings from another parure. (And wearing a dress I consider posting every time someone complains about the overload of white evening dresses, yes.)
Appearances of the diamond cuff set were clustered in the 1990s, including a visit to Berlin in 1992 and the 1999 Royal Variety Performance. The set may have been a gift during her reign, based on the modern style and the fact that the choker style of necklace is not one that The Queen wears often (this, however, is just my own speculation). This set hasn't been used much by The Queen, and given that different style necklace, I'm not surprised.
The Queen with the bracelet. Her earrings look to be from the Diamond Chandelier Drop Demi-Parure, and her necklace is the DiamondPear-Shaped Pendant Fringe.
The bracelet made a more recent appearance in 2012, in photos released along with the publication of Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe by Angela Kelly. The bracelet features horizontal rows of diamonds in a similar cuff style to the necklace. I have grouped the pieces together here, due to the shape and style, but there is a case to made that this bracelet might belong to a different gold-set demi-parure instead. It's difficult to tell, because bracelets aren't always easy to see when in use. (Or, perhaps, it is a bracelet not belonging to a set. With a design like this, it could pair with any number of jewels.)

Royal Family
The Countess of Wessex borrowed the Diamond and Gold Cuff Necklace from The Queen in December 2016, when attending the Golden Hockey Ball. It is another in a long line of loaned pieces that have been steadily appearing on both The Countess and on The Duchess of Cambridge.

One other note on this set: Diana, Princess of Wales had a necklace and earring set that resembled the shape of the Diamond and Gold Cuff Necklace.

These necklaces share similarities, but are different; Diana's may have had darker elements in addition to the diamond (real or faux) elements. The Princess of Wales' use of such a set does speak to the time period in which designs like this were fashionable, however, and perhaps offers a clue as to when The Queen's necklace was created.

Thanks to commenters for reminding me of the later bracelet appearance and of Diana's similar necklace, which is cataloged at the Diana's Jewels site.

7 December 2016: Golden Hockey Ball (on The Countess of Wessex)
1992: State Visit to Germany