The Royal Family of Britain possesses countless gemstone laden treasures, many of which feature sapphires. Queen Elizabeth II watches over many of these jewels and enjoys wearing them along with sapphire jewels from her private collection.
A historic piece of sapphire jewellery in the care of Queen Elizabeth is Prince Albert’s Brooch. The gold brooch, which features a deep blue sapphire surrounded with twelve round diamonds in open backed settings, was originally given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert the day before their wedding in 1840. The queen wore the brooch on her wedding day, and frequently wore it during the years that followed. After Prince Albert’s death in 1861, the Queen seldom wore the brooch. Victoria left the brooch to the Crown after her passing. As an heirloom of the Crown, the brooch was passed from queen to queen and now resides in possession of Queen Elizabeth II, who frequently adds the brooch to her daytime wear. Prince Albert’s Brooch will continue to be passed on to future queens as a token of love and the influence of the British Monarchy.
Another gorgeous sapphire brooch in Queen Elizabeth’s possession is Empress Marie Feodorovna’s Sapphire Brooch. This piece of European history features a sapphire cabochon surrounded with two rows of diamonds and accented by a pearl drop. The Brooch was first presented to Queen Alexandra’s sister, the future Empress Marie Feodorovna, in 1866 when she married Alexander III of Russia. Marie treasured the brooch and wore it frequently. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Marie fled to Denmark leaving many of her belongings behind, but her brooch was one of the items she managed to take with her. After Marie’s death in 1928, her jewellery was sold at an auction held by Henell and Sons in 1930, where her brooch was purchased by Queen Mary of England for 2,375 pounds sterling. Queen Elizabeth inherited the brooch in 1953, which she has worn for both formal and casual events, including her Silver Jubilee celebration in 1977, commemorating twenty five years of the Queen’s reign. Elizabeth continues to wear the brooch, with the jewel making its most recent public appearance during stately ceremonies at Buckingham Palace in 2018.
The George VI Sapphire suite could perhaps be Queen Elizabeth’s most iconic sapphire treasure. These astonishing jewels were given to Elizabeth by her father as a wedding gift in 1947, at which time the set consisted of a necklace, featuring large cushion and octagon shaped sapphires set into a diamond accented chain, and matching earrings. The Queen had the necklace altered in 1952 to remove the biggest sapphire and shorten the chain. Sometime after, the largest sapphire of the necklace was reattached to the chain as a pendant, and a bracelet was also crafted to match the set. Certainly one of Elizabeth’s more prized jewels, the Queen has worn the George VI Suite for all manner of occasions, including her Golden Jubilee celebration in 2002, commemorating fifty years of Elizabeth II’s reign. The George VI Sapphire Suite is a stunning piece of sapphire jewellery and one of the finest blue treasures that the Queen has received.
Often worn by Elizabeth with the George VI Suite is the Belgian Sapphire Tiara. The tiara began its life as a necklace, previously owned by Princess Louise of Belgium, featuring large cushion shaped sapphires accented with cushion and pear shaped sapphire drops set into a swooping diamond framework. Queen Elizabeth II purchased the necklace in 1963 with the intention of enhancing the King George VI Sapphire Suite. Elizabeth had the necklace mounted inversely on a tiara frame so it could be worn as a matching diadem with the Suite, and paired the jewels quite often for many years. The Belgian Tiara has made fewer appearances in recent years, but it remains an important and glorious piece of Elizabeth’s sapphire jewellery collection.
Also in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II is Queen Mary’s Sapphire Bandeau tiara, also known as Marie Feodorovna’s Sapphire Bandeau. The bandeau, which features a large deep blue cushion shaped sapphire set into a detachable brooch mounted at the centre of a diamond sunray motif band, once belonged to Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia. The tiara was separated from the former Princess of Denmark after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and managed to find its way to Princess Nicholas of Greece. Nicholas sold it in 1921 at a jewellery auction in Paris, where it was purchased by Queen Mary of the United Kingdom. Queen Mary famously wore this elegant diadem, and it was left to Queen Elizabeth II after her death. Queen Elizabeth has never been seen wearing the bandeau in public, but Princess Margaret, Elizabeth’s younger sister, wore the tiara and the brooch component numerous times through the 1950s and 1960s. Since then the bandeau has seldom been seen, but it remains in the care of Queen Elizabeth as one of the many sapphire jewels she watches over.
Queen Elizabeth II will always be remembered as loving the lavish glow of her sapphire jewellery. The most important sapphire jewels of the British monarchy are fastened to the Imperial State Crown. Learn about the sapphires of the Imperial State Crown of Britain in the next part of this series.
Here are some of our favourite sapphire rings from the Skyjems catalog:
© Yaĝé Enigmus a.k.a. Kevin Back