05 April 2019

Jewelry Additions from the Royal Gift List, 2018

The annual lists of official gifts given to members of the Royal Family were finally published today! (I say "finally" because the lists, which cover gifts from the previous year, have been published in January every other year this site has been covering them.) (And you can find all those years linked on our In-Depth Features & Lists page.)

So what goodies did the royals pick up in 2018? The usual stuff, mostly: countless books, framed pictures, food of all sorts. For The Queen, equestrian-themed gifts were all the rage, including five different statuettes. Her list included a few jewelry items of potential interest:
  • Lace pearl drop gold earrings with garnets and amethysts, given by Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore. Regular readers will note that one of the most frequently worn official gifts in recent memory came from Singapore in 2012: the Singapore Peranakan Diamond Jubilee Brooch.
  • Another regimental badge for the collection: a hand-made, hand-assembled pin brooch of Canadian gold and precious stones.
  • A handmade silver filigree butterfly brooch with Macedonian rubies.
  • A silver cuff bracelet with an engraved design showing a killer whale, eagle, and wolf, representing the province of British Columbia.
  • Not all jewelry gifts are meant to be worn: The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, presented a traditional beaded Zulu necklace, already mounted and framed.
  • A specially-designed brooch inspired by the aigrette awarded to Horatio Nelson by Sultan Selim III in honor of the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Nelson's aigrette was a chelengk, a military decoration, and it was stolen from the National Maritime Museum in 1951. (Replica below.) This is an interesting gift because another member of the Royal Family already has an adaptation of this piece in her collection: The Duchess of Cornwall wears a diamond version (shown below).
A replica of Nelson's stolen diamond chelengk, the piece on which The Queen's new brooch was inspired.
Public Domain

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The Duchess of Cornwall wearing her Nelson-inspired brooch, which usually makes its appearances at naval events.

Jewelry gifts to The Duchess of Cornwall and The Duchess of Cambridge in 2018 were mostly given by individuals, are likely of a smaller nature, and aren't given much description in the lists.

The Duchess of Sussex received a few notable pieces. In addition to the numerous congratulatory gifts she and The Duke picked up for their first baby, including dozens of soft toys, she accepted some jewelry from government officials: a brooch from The President of Ireland, a necklace from The First Lady of Fiji, a necklace from The Governor General of New Zealand, and earrings from The Prime Minister of New Zealand.

The Duchess of Sussex's Fiji necklace, by J. Hunter

The necklace from Fiji is this strand of colorful pearls from J. Hunter Pearls, dubbed the Sussex Strand by the company.

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The Queen often wore gifts of jewels before the end of a visit or tour. In that same vein, The Duchess wore both the necklace received from New Zealand's Governor General, Dame Patsy Reddy, and the earrings she received from the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, during the couple's tour. (She wears both above.) The necklace is a Pounamu Kouma by Māori designer Kiri Nathan, carved by Jason Nathan.

The Duchess of Sussex's earrings, by Boh Runga

The earrings are by New Zealand's Boh Runga. They feature a crossed native Miromiro feather design. In Māori mythology, according to the label, the Miromiro feather was a magic token of devotion that would bring loved ones back to you. The pieces were a meaningful choice worn after the trip, when The Duke and Duchess visited New Zealand House in London to sign a book of condolence following the terror attack in Christchurch in March. An absolutely perfect use of these sorts of gifts.

The Mirror has published basic 2018 gift lists for The Queen, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex; the Daily Mail has published those as well as lists for The Duke of York, The Princess Royal, and The Earl and Countess of Wessex. (I'm sure Edward's "Man Cave" sign is getting a lot of use at the palace.)

About official gifts: Official gifts are those received during an official engagement or in connection with an official royal role. These gifts are not the private property of the royal recipient. Members of the royal family can use these gifts for their lifetime (and some, depending on the type of gift and its value, can be given to charity or staff or consumed, as in the case of food); on their death, they are passed to the monarch, who will decide if they should become part of the Royal collection or continue to be used by the deceased's successors. The official gift policy was created in 2003 following issues with distribution of gifts; it can be read here