Jewel of the Day: Queen Mary’s Russian Brooch

  June 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm by

The days of prolific jewellery-wearers such as Queen Mary and Queen Alexandra are unfortunately gone. Nevertheless, the British Royals still wear impressive pieces from time to time. These blog entries will focus on pieces of jewellery as and when they are worn by British Royal ladies.

View full image (in public domain)

Today’s piece was worn by Queen Elizabeth as she attended the Epsom Derby, signalling the beginning of the four day Diamond Jubilee festivities.

The brooch was originally presented by Emperor Alexander III and Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia to Princess Mary of Teck (future Queen Mary) on occasion of her marriage to the Duke of York (future George V) in 1893. The brooch has a large square-cut diamond and square cabochon sapphire set in a scroll frame of round diamonds.

The Empress later asked her husband, Alexander III, to add a matching sapphire and diamond bracelet to the gift. Queen Elizabeth inherited the brooch in 1953, when Queen Mary passed away.

View full image at Daylife

Because of the unusual design, the brooch can be worn both vertically and horizontally. The original owner, Queen Mary, was quite creative and wore it in different ways; in this picture from 1925, she wears the brooch horizontally and on her collar. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Elizabeth II have both worn it mostly vertically. The Queen mostly pairs the brooch with blue outfits; she has worn it from early years of her reign as in this picture, to recent times as in this one.

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6 Responses to Jewel of the Day: Queen Mary’s Russian Brooch

  1. As you know, the unemployment rate in Britain is worse than it is here. Surely, wearing of (even inherited) elegant jewels might be at least “curbed,” shall we say? HM Queen Marie Antoinette was (falsely) charged with saying “Let them eat cake!” That was actually said by Jean Jacques Rousseau, in his novel “Confessions,” published when Marie Antoinette was 12, and living in Vienna.

    Uneasy lies that head that wears a crown. Insensitivity is an error not easily corrected. As when, learning of Princess Diana’s death, Her Majesty’s first words were: “Secure the jewels!”

    Queen Marie Antoinette’s actual spirit was shown, when, on her way to the axe, she accidentally stepped on the headsman’s foot, and said: “Pardon me, for I did not mean to do it.” She would not spitefully show contempt, even to a man about to kill her.

  2. Artemisia says:

    I strongly doubt the Queen’s first words, upon learning of Diana’s death, had anything to do with jewels.

    The jewellery in possession of the Royal Family is not newly acquired; those are heirlooms passed from generation to generation, all with fascinating history and legends surrounding it. I, for one, am really glad whenever one such piece is taken from royal vaults and makes a re-appearance.

  3. SalannB says:

    This is just lovely. And I’m sorry, Fr. Andrew, these are the Queen’s personal jewels. She has every right to wear what she wants WHEN she wants. She certainly doesn’t parade around in them like Queen Alexandra or Queen Mary, but I see no reason why she can’t wear them.

    Queen Elizabeth always wears her jewels tastefully. I love this brooch. And I didn’t realize just how big it really is, until I saw the photo of it at Queen Mary’s throat.


  4. Daisy Miller says:

    I think Marie Antoinette said “I beg your pardon” or words to that effect. She was very brave. Fr. James, if you are going to quote, quote accurately and do npt put words in people’s mouths.

  5. Michael Correll says:

    I really liked that quote attributed to HM Queen Marie Antoinette. Here Royalty is acting as, I suppose, it aught in showing us lesser mortals proper behaviour.

  6. Cynthia says:

    I have to agree with SalannB. The Queen should wear her jewels, She IS the ruler of the empire and the jewels are part of her “Majesty” (Just as the halo around Christ is HIS “Majesty”) She means no disrespect to her people, and I also agree she wears them in excellent taste.My country (USA) is going through some of the worst times of all but that doesn’t stop me from wearing my six carat diamond wedding ring.I’ve had it 32 years, and no one begrudges me for wearing it. That is pettiness.

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