Jewel of the Day: Queen Victoria’s Bow Brooches

  June 13, 2012 at 6:49 pm by

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It’s always wonderful to see a piece of jewellery that is not only beautiful, but also has a lot of historical significance behind it. Today was one of those occasions: Her Majesty chose to wear one of Queen Victoria’s Bow Brooches – part of British Crown Jewels – for a visit with Nottingham with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Bow brooches have been very popular since the 17th century; they reached the height of popularity during 19th century, and so Queen Victoria commissioned Garrards to make brooches from 506 diamonds she supplied. In total, three brooches were made – two large, and one slightly smaller one. The Queen left them to the Crown in her will, and they’ve been worn by Queens ever since.

While it is known Victoria did wear the brooches on several occasions, there are no actual pictures or portraits depicting her with any of them. However, there are numerous records of Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother wearing one (or more) of them.

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Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary would often adjust the brooches to contain a large pearl or emerald drop. Queen Mary even added the lesser Cullinan diamonds as drops sometimes. The Queen Mother mostly wore the brooches on their own, without any additions. The current Queen followed her mother’s example and mostly opts wearing the brooches just on their own.

While the brooch, as part of the Crown Jewels, is almost exclusively worn by Queens, there have been two notable exceptions. The first one was in 1930’s, when Queen Mary lent one of the brooches (the smaller one) to then Duchess of York (future Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) to wear for a second occasion. The second occasion is far more recent; in 1986, Queen Elizabeth lent the brooch to her daughter-in-law – The Duchess of York to wear for the Braemar Games.

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Another brooch I’d like to highlight in this blog entry is the beautiful Sunflower Brooch, sometimes known as the Frosted Sunflower Brooch, which the Queen wore it for the Garden Party at the Sandringham Estate on June 12. Although the brooch contains 31 diamonds (1 big and 30 smaller ones), there are no eye-popping stones in this one. However, the brooch itself is beautiful and elegant, and the simplicity of the design only accentuates that. Her Majesty often wears this brooch with pastels, or with tonal yellow outfits.

To learn more about Queen Elizabeth’s brooches, visit this thread: Queen Elizabeth II – Brooches.

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2 Responses to Jewel of the Day: Queen Victoria’s Bow Brooches

  1. theresa egan says:

    please correct me if wrong, but wasn’t it queen mary of teck who was mainly responsible for helping make the crown jewels as splendid a collection as they are today ? for some reason, i seem to remember reading somewhere that she was able to quietly and quickly snap up many of russia’s jewels during the awful revolution . can someone help me on this ? thank you, theresa

  2. Artemisia says:

    @ Theresa egan
    Your information is pretty accurate. Queen Mary was an avid jewellery collector and did indeed contribute heavily to the splendour of the British jewels we know today.

    Most of the Russian jewels currently in possession of the British Royal Family came from the sale of the jewellery belonging to Empress Maria Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. Among those jewels are the magnificent Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, Maria Feodorovna’s Sapphire Bandeau, and Russian Sapphire Pearl Necklace of Marie Feodorovna.

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