The Queen's Jewels

In Hugh Roberts’ The Queen’s Diamonds, we are given a perspective on the Queen’s diamond collections. Here is an excerpt of the text of his new book, courtesy of The Telegraph.

Queen Elizabeth's magnificent jewelry collection is priceless.
The Queen's collection contains a number of diamonds with 'histories' – usually a mixture of fact and legend – that have added to their desirability and fame. The pre-eminent example of such a stone is the Koh-i-nûr, or Mountain of Light, now part of the Crown Jewels and set in the crown of Queen Elizabeth, consort of George VI and last Empress of India. This stone (which has a complicated and certainly part-legendary provenance encompassing Mughal emperors, Persian conquerors and the rulers of the Punjab), also encapsulates changing attitudes to the cutting of 

The majority of the personal jewellery in the Queen's collection dates from the 19th or early 20th centuries. Most of the jewels are set with old brilliants and rose cuts; modern brilliants are found only on pieces made or remodelled after about 1920. The settings of the jewellery are of silver, white or yellow gold, or platinum, in various combinations – platinum being especially favoured towards the end of the 19th century. With few exceptions, the workmanship is English…

One of the unique aspects of the collection lies in the rich archival background, which includes inventories, bills, diaries and other documents held in the Royal Archives and elsewhere. These records enable pieces to be followed from owner to owner, while also allowing detailed study of the transformation that many pieces have undergone as fashions and tastes have changed. The recycling of stones is a particular feature of the collection: for a variety of reasons, new jewellery was made, more often than not, using diamonds removed from out-of-date or unfashionable pieces – often into brooches and, to a lesser extent, necklaces and tiaras…


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