We had a lot of fun talking about Queen Victoria’s wedding dress yesterday, and are really looking forward to it going on display this March at Kensington Palace. Click here for a refresher.
Today, we are going to discuss the gorgeous jewelry that Queen Victoria wore on her wedding day (almost 162 years ago). All in all, Queen Victoria wore rather a lot of jewelry: a serious diamond necklace with matching earrings that she called her “Turkish Diamonds” and a sapphire brooch given to her by the Prince Albert.
Sapphire Brooch aka “Prince Albert’s Sapphire Brooch”
First up is this stunning sapphire brooch. It consists of an oval surrounded by brilliant diamonds and is set in gold. It measures 3.7 x 4.1cm. This piece was a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria; he gave it to her the day before the wedding at Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria described the brooch as being ‘a splendid brooch, a large sapphire set round with diamonds, which is really quite beautiful’. She sure gave it pride of place on her dress – and talk about a something blue!
Check it out in the portrait of Queen Victoria below:
It is not known where Prince Albert acquired this piece. The Royal Collection conjectures that ‘The brooch may have been supplied by a leading London jeweller such as Kitching & Abud or Mortimer & Hunt, both of whom Prince Albert patronised significantly in the early years of the marriage. If, however, the Prince purchased the brooch abroad, it may be among the unspecified payments to firms in Hanau.’
In her will, Queen Victoria specified that this piece was to be an heirloom of the Crown which is how it is still in the Royal Collection. Queen Elizabeth still wears this brooch, which we are always very excited to see. Here are some examples of the Queen bringing out this particular piece of bling over the years. As you can see, she tends to match it to her blue ensembles:
So what are the “Turkish Jewels” that Queen Victoria wore? Queen Victoria was gifted numerous diamonds by Sultan Mahmud of Turkey in 1838. They were then and made up into a necklace and earrings the following year by Rundells & Bridge, a jewellery firm based in London. The firm held the royal warrant from 1797 until 1843.
The necklace featured diamond rosettes and strands of diamonds. The earrings were equally elaborate and must have been very heavy on Victoria’s ears. Take another look at the portrait above to see how large they were – they look like something that Beyonce would wear to an awards show.
It is believed that Queen Victoria left the necklace to her son, the Duke of Connaught, upon her death. Sadly it is no longer a part of the Royal Collection and its whereabouts are unknown (same goes for the earrings).
Please let us know if you have any more information about this necklace and earring set – we’d love to know if it still exists! Fingers crossed that it does and hasn’t been dismantled…
Bridesmaid’s Turquoise Eagle Brooch
To end off, let’s take a look at the bridesmaids gifts that Queen Victoria’s 12 bridesmaids received. This brooch was designed with both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s input and were manufactured by the London jeweller Charles du Vée. The brooches feature a turquoise eagle (representing Prince Albert’s Coburg family) with a diamond beak, ruby eyes and pearls in each talon. Not too shabby!
One of these brooches remains in the Royal Collection and the Royal Collection website gives lots of information about this piece. It says, “According to The Times of 10 February, ‘The whole workmanship [of the brooches] is very superior and exactly in accordance with the directions of the Royal Bride’. The stones used were all highly symbolic: turquoises and pearls representing true love, rubies for passion and diamonds for eternity…After the wedding ceremony, each train bearer was presented with one of these brooches in a blue velvet box. Several of these survive in the families of their original recipients, for example at Woburn Abbey and at Hatfield House. An example, possibly this one, belonged to Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Marie Louise (1872-1956).”
What do you make of Queen Victoria’s wedding jewelry?