Jewel of the Day: Prince Albert’s Sapphire Brooch

  July 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm by

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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).

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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.

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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 Historical Royals, The United Kingdom
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7 Responses to Jewel of the Day: Prince Albert’s Sapphire Brooch

  1. Another important part of the history of this brooch is THERE ARE SEVERAL OTHERS OF THESE BROOCHES created by Prince Albert. Prince Albert had one made for each of his daughters. Queen Elizabeth II bought back one of these other brooches in recent years as a gift for Princess Anne.

  2. It was ever my impression that Prince Albert was a poverty-stricken German prince. A near blood relative, but poor. Then too, there’s that revealing comment of Her Majesty the Queen, when Princess Diana died: “Secure the jewels.” What tender feelings.

  3. Artemisia says:

    @ Fr. Andrew L. J. James, Ph.D.
    You have repeated that claim about Diana’s jewels on several occasions, yet provided no source. I strongly doubt Queen Elizabeth first words on hearing of Diana’s death had anything to do with jewels. although of course, as Sovereign, she would have to ensure that the jewels that belonged to the Crown were indeed secured.

    @ Mr. Thomas Moore III
    Thanks for the input! 🙂
    I did mention a second, similar brooch (sapphire and diamonds) given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria; it was inherited by their daughter, Princess Helena. As for the brooch occasional worn by Princess Anne, it’s provenance is debatable; it may or may not be one of the gifts of The Prince Consort to Queen Victoria.

  4. Ryan Windsor says:

    It is true that the Queen said “Secure the jewels.” but it is Royal Protocol to do so. It is a way of expressing privacy to the dead! Just as Diana’s body was laying in state as to were her Royal Jewels as a way to say ‘no one can see or have these until the time of laying in state is over.’ This practice has been done for over 200 years for any member or former member of the British Royal Family. However, there are several of these brooches as many have been made to replicate that classic design. There is, however, only one original that of corse being from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria!

  5. PRock says:

    Fr. Andrew, give it a rest. And everyone knows Diana wouldn’t have had major jewelry with her on a little trip to Paris.

  6. Lady Daphne says:

    I have wondered, though, who will be the next to wear the famed “Cambridge Lover’s Knot” Tiara so beautifully worn by Diana, Princess of Wales. I’m not sure, but I’ve read that the Queen ‘gave’ the tiara to Diana to wear as Princess of Wales. I seriously hope Camilla will never wear it.

  7. Artemisia says:

    @ Lady Daphne
    Diana always looked lovely wearing Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara, didn’t she? 🙂

    I too doubt Camilla will ever wear that particular tiara. Not only because of its association, but also because it’s not her style. Plus, the Duchess has quite a few more impressive pieces at her disposal.

    For some reason, I can’t see Kate wearing it either; I think the Duchess of Cambridge is trying to find her own place in the Royal Family and hearts of people – not follow Diana’s path. However, I can totally see a daughter of William and Kate wearing it some time in future; it would be an ice tribute to the girl’s grandmother.

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