Princess Diana wearing the Spencer Tiara

Princess Diana wearing the Spencer Tiara on her wedding day | Source: Vanity Fair

Diamond Tiaras and Ruby Necklaces: The Most Iconic Royal Jewellery

Members of the world’s royal families have the privilege of being able to admire a painting of a grandmother or grandfather wearing spectacular set of royal jewels and then attend a function the very next day wearing the same piece of jaw-dropping jewellery.

Designed for princesses and queens, these enormously expensive pieces of high jewellery have been passed down through the generations and only worn on the most special occasions by members of the royal family.

From lavish jewel-encrusted diamond tiaras to delicate parures, these are some of the world’s most expensive and widely renowned pieces of royal jewellery.

Queen Elizabeth II: “Granny’s Chips” Cullinan Diamond Brooch

Cut from the largest diamond ever unearthed, the enourmous 621.35 gram Cullinan Diamond, this brooch was bequeathed to Queen Elizabeth II by her beloved grandmother Queen Mary for her 1953 coronation. The Queen wore the glittering jewel for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

The massive Cullinan diamond was cut into 9 stones, the biggest two adorn the British Royal Sceptre and the Imperial Crown of Great Britain. The two that make up Elizabeth’s favourite brooch are the third and fourth biggest of the set, weighing “only” 158 carats.

As well as being worth over A$87.77 million, this piece of jewellery has great sentimental value for Her Majesty as they were a gift from Queen Mary, whom she very much loved.

Queen Mary was a very popular monarch and famously visited wounded soldiers with her husband King George V and rationed food in Buckingham Palace during the war.

Queen Elizabeth II herself gave the piece the humorous nickname “granny’s chips,” testament to her fondness for her grandmother.

Royal Jewellery
Source: The Court Jeweller

Princess Grace of Monaco: Cartier Diamond Necklace

A three-strand necklace adorned with approximately 64 carats of round and emerald cut diamonds was the gift Grace Kelly received upon her marriage to Rainer III, Prince of Monaco in 1956. Set in platinum in the festoon style, the Princess went on to wear her Cartier diamond necklace in a photo shoot for French Vogue in 1959.

The piece is now in the Palais Princier Collection in the Palace of Monaco, but was worn by Princess Grace’s granddaughter Charlotte Casiraghi in 2021 when she tied the knot with film producer Dimitri Rassam.

Designed by famous jewellery maker Cartier in 1953, the necklace was rumoured to be Casiraghi’s “something borrowed” on her wedding day.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark: Danish Ruby Parure

The Danish Ruby Parure was made for the coronation of Emperor Napoleon in 1804. Consisting of a diamond and ruby floral tiara, a pair of chandelier earrings, a necklace which can be worn in various configurations, a brooch, a bracelet, hairpins and a ring, all set with diamonds and small rubies in clusters, it is quite a suite of jewels indeed.

One of Napoleon’s marshals, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, bought this parure for his wife, Désirée Clary who was at one point engaged to Napoleon himself. It was brought to Sweden where Bernadotte and his wife were made King and Queen.

Désirée Clary, Queen Desideria of Sweden, left the jewels to her daughter-in-law, Queen Josephine of Sweden, a grand daughter of Napoleon’s Empress Josephine.

They then passed onto Queen Josephine’s granddaughter who became Queen Lovisa of Denmark. They stayed in Denmark and remained in the royal family until they came to be in the hands of Queen Ingrid of Denmark.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark has worn the jewels on multiple occasions, including the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito of Japan in 2019, and says she likes to “play with it”. The tiara was customised to fit the shape of Crown Princess Mary’s head.

Diana, Princess of Wales: Spencer Tiara

Worn by Diana, Princess of Wales at her wedding to Prince Charles on July 29, 1981, this tiara was a break from tradition. Crafted with more than 800 diamonds, the tiara was not borrowed from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II but was instead a family heirloom that had remained in the Spencer family for a century.

The main part of the tiara was owned by Diana’s grandmother, Lady Cynthia Hamilton, and was joined with the other elements which came from Lady Sarah Spencer’s collection, acquired in the 1870s by high jewellers Garrard to make what is today known as the Spencer Tiara.

Princess Diana wearing the Spencer Tiara
Source: Town & Country Magazine

Since Diana’s wedding, it has been worn by Victoria Lockwood, the first wife of Earl Spencer, as well as Diana’s niece, Lady Celia McCorquodale.

The approximately A$286,116 tiara passed onto the Earl of Spencer after Diana’s death in 1997 where it remains until this day. Lady Kitty Spencer, Diana’s niece, decided against wearing the tiara at her wedding to Michael Lewis in 2021.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex: Queen Mary’s Bandeau Tiara

Megan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, wore Queen Mary’s Bandeau Tiara, worth about A$12.11 million, at her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19, 2018.

It was made from a royal family heirloom brooch in 1932 and consists of 11 sections with interlaced ovals and a detachable centrepiece. The tiara is flexible and features pavé diamonds along with large and small brilliant-cut diamonds.

Originally given to Princess Mary for her marriage to Prince George V on July 6, 1893, the jewellery was then passed on to Queen Elizabeth in 1953.

After much speculation about what tiara the Duchess of Sussex would wear on her wedding day, many say she opted for this piece due to the fact that it had rarely been worn in public by members of the royal family.

Meghan Markle Duchess of Sussex wearing Bandeau Tiara
Source: Tatler

Queen Elizabeth II: Brazilian Aquamarine Parure

This parure started off including a necklace and earrings made using aquamarine diamonds and was presented to the Queen in 1953 by the Brazilian president as a coronation gift on behalf of the people of Brazil.

In 1957, the Queen had commissioned jewellers Garrard to make a tiara to accompany the Demi-parure using aquamarine. The tiara features an elaborate diamond and aquamarine bandeau base, with three aquamarine and diamond elements placed at intervals.

The parure went through an evolution from 1958 to 1971 when the South American nation gifted even more massive aquamarines to the Queen. After the Governor of Sao Paolo gave her an aquamarine and diamond hair ornament, the tiara was said to have been “supersized” by incorporating these pieces.

The Queen is said to be very fond of this A$6.73 million set of jewellery as it is one of the few parures in her possession she had a hand in designing herself. Her Majesty wore it at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia in October 2011 and again at the Spanish state banquet at Buckingham Palace in July 2017.

Queen Elizabeth II wearing aquamarine tiara
Source: The Court Jeweller

Queen Elizabeth II: The George IV State Diadem

Worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation in 1953, this royal jewellery is one of the most recognisable pieces of jewellery in the world as it is featured on the banknotes of most British Commonwealth realms.

Decorated with 1,333 diamonds weighing a total of 320 carats, there is a centre yellow stone and the diadem is adorned with four bouquets of roses, thistles and shamrocks, representing, England, Scotland and Ireland.

royal jewellery
Source: British Vogue

Made by Rundells in 1820 for the total price of £8,216, a very large sum at the time, the Queen wears the iconic piece of royal jewellery at the procession to and from the annual State Opening of Parliament every year.

Included in the purchase was £800 for the diamond hire which was never returned. Rundell maintains, however, that King George IV discreetly bartered the diamonds for other stones from his extensive private collection.

The George IV State Diadem features two rows of pearls set on the head band and is worth approximately A$52.49 million.

The George IV State Diadem
Source: Royal Collection Trust

For more on some of the uber expensive dresses and accessories worn at royal weddings, check out Royal Gowns & Classic Garments: The Most Expensive Celebrity Wedding Dresses.

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