The Jewel Room at Kensington Palace displays an incredible suite of jewellery including specially commissioned gems for Queen Victoria by her beloved husband Albert. Comprising a magnificent diamond and emerald tiara, emerald necklace, earrings and brooch, this matching suite of jewels showcases both the exquisite workmanship of nineteenth century goldsmiths, and Prince Albert’s own flair for design. The collection constitutes the only known example of a tiara design by a consort for his Queen.
Alongside the Prince's dazzling gifts to Queen Victoria, the Kokosnhik tiara and the Fife tiara, are also on display. Both of these tiaras belonged to Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Louise.Read more about the tiaras
As the jeweller of choice for generations of British kings and queens and once holder of the coveted role of ‘Crown Jeweller’ for over 160 years, the name Garrard is synonymous with royalty. A new display in 2021 explores the relationship between the famed jeweller Garrad and the British royal family and considers how their company’s historic creations continue to inspire Garrard’s designs to this day.
On public display for the first time are examples of Garrad’s ledgers which carefully document royal commissions dating back to 1735. From silver communion cups to crowns laden with precious gemstones, they reveal the many and varied items hand-crafted for some of Kensington Palace's most famous former residents, including Queen Victoria and Queen Mary – wife and consort of King George V – both of whom were born at the palace.
Along with archival treasures the display includes an example of the company’s current collections, the Albemarle suite. This draws upon motifs featured in the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara, one of the gifts presented to Princess Elizabeth at Garrard in 1947, showcasing how these historic commissions continue to inspire contemporary Garrard designs.
Images: © Garrard/Historic Royal Palaces
Queen Mary’s fringe tiara
The display also shines a spotlight on one of the most iconic pieces ever created by Garrard - Queen Mary’s fringe tiara.
Made in 1919 using diamonds taken from Queen Victoria’s wedding gift to Queen Mary - who married Victoria’s grandson, the future King George V - this spectacular diamond headpiece was a personal commission by the then Queen Consort, and reflects not only the early twentieth century trend for Russian influenced tiaras, but also Mary’s own interest in the design and setting of her jewels.
The original technical drawing used by the craftsmen at E Wolff in the creation of the tiara, one of the trusted workshops used by Garrard to bring their designs to life, goes on public view for the first time. It reveals the incredible skill involved in the piece’s production. Handcrafted from gold and silver, and set with almost 1,000 white diamonds, the tiara’s signature shape requires 47 graduated rays of diamonds, each separated by a narrower spike of diamond brilliants, all of which increase in height towards the centre of the frame.
In 1947, the then Princess Elizabeth – now Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – selected this tiara to wear on her wedding day, with images and footage of the young royal bride in this dazzling Garrard tiara cementing the piece’s place in jewellery history. To mark the occasion, Queen Mary also presented her granddaughter with a number of significant pieces from her legendary jewel collection, and members of the royal family were invited to Garrard’s Mayfair premises to view the glittering display of gifts. The page in Garrard’s visitor’s book which documented the visit, signed by both Queen Mary and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, joins the Kensington Palace display.
Image: Drawing of Queen Mary's fringe tiara, produced by E. Wolff & Co. for Garrard. © E. Wolff & Co/Historic Royal Palaces
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