Jewel of the Day: Prince Albert’s Sapphire Brooch
Most of Her Majesty’s important jewels are currently being showcased in various Diamond Jubilee exhibitions, meaning we have been deprived of serious jewellery for quite some time now. Today, however, Queen Elizabeth made up for those unfortunate circumstances by wearing one of my personal favourite brooches – Prince Albert’s Sapphire Brooch.
The brooch, also known as Queen Victoria’s Wedding Brooch, is not only absolutely stunning – it also has important historical significance. For one thing, it’s over 172 years old. And for another, it was the brooch the previous Queen Regnant – Queen Victoria – chose to wear for her wedding (hence the other name).
Prince Albert liked to spoil Victoria with romantic gifts of very tasteful jewellery. And so the day before their wedding, on 9 February 1840, he presented the Queen with a beautiful sapphire brooch. Victoria wrote in her diary that “dearest Albert” came to her sitting room and gave her four fans and “a splendid brooch, a large sapphire set round with diamonds, which is really quite beautiful”. The young Queen decided to wear the brooch on her wedding day, combing it with her Turkish diamonds – a gift from Sultan Mahmud of the Ottoman Empire (incidentally, the following year those diamonds were made up into a necklace and earrings by Rundells).
The brooch consists of a large oblong sapphire surrounded by twelve round diamonds. The setting of a large, coloured stone in a border of brilliants was in a style that became popular during the Regency and reflected something of the simplicity of the early 19th century jewellery design. Queen Victoria loved that brooch and frequently wore it until 1861.
Queen Victoria wrote in her diary that for her 26th birthday, Prince Albert gave her “another beautiful single sapphire brooch, set round in diamonds, much like the beauty he gave at our marriage, only not quite so large”. While in her will Queen Victoria bequeathed the wedding brooch to the Crown, the smaller brooch was left to her third daughter, Princess Helena.
Queen Elizabeth appears to share her ancestress’ love for this brooch; she has worn it on numerous occasions, including some very memorable ones such as dinner with the President and Mrs Kennedy at Buckingham Palace in 1961, and the christening of Prince William in 1982.Filed under British Royals, Historical Royals
Tagged Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Jewellery, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.