Caroline de Guitaut, curator of Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration now on at Buckingham Palace. Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images.
LONDON - To mark the Queen’s 60 year reign, Buckingham Palace is staging the most scintillating and priceless exhibition in its history. It consists of 21 jewels from the Queen’s private collection acquired by six British monarchs over three centuries set with a staggering 10,000 diamonds.
This is a display set to inspire designers, jewellery collectors and connoisseurs across the world for decades. Take, for example, the Williamson Diamond Brooch, containing the finest pink diamond ever discovered, crafted into a flower jewel by Cartier and gifted to the Queen and Prince Philip on their wedding day by the geologist who owned the Canadian mine where it was discovered. Or the tiny Garrard crown worn by Queen Victoria after her beloved Prince Albert died, only 10 centimetres in diameter, 140 grams in weight and containing an eye-popping 1,187 diamonds.
A Royal Portrait: Queen Elizabeth II (Photo ©Annie Leibovitz/Contact/nbpictures).
There is one jewel in the exhibition we probably see daily without realising it. It’s the beautiful Diamond Diadem Tiara – the one worn by the Queen on British and Commonwealth stamps and some British coins and bank notes. It is also the jewel Her Majesty dons for the state opening of Parliament.
The curiously titled Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara was a gift from them to the current Queen’s grandmother on the occasion of her marriage to King George V in 1893. Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images.
In a year of unprecedented British patriotism, this rare and rarefied exhibition not only shines the light on diamonds as the ultimate symbol of status and power, it reminds us how literal the Queen’s associations with diamonds really are.
Claire Adler writes on jewellery and watches for the Financial Times and Sotheby's. She consults as a writer and speaker for De Beers, Boodles and the World Gold Council.