The Favourites: The Royal Family's Best-Loved Jewels
From personal treasures, loans from the Queen and rumoured gifts from their Princes—the Royal family loves to play favourites with their enviable jewel boxes.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s Ballon Bleu de Cartier Watch
Cartier, the French jewellery house founded in 1847, has been a long-time favourite of the Royal Family, supplying them with timepieces, jewels and various accoutrements for many generations. While Cartier’s famous Tank watch has been worn by everyone from Jackie Kennedy-Onassis to Catherine Deneuve, as well as multiple Royal Family members, including Princess Diana and the Duchess of Sussex, Catherine’s timepiece of choice is a unique one: the Ballon Bleu. The Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch features a very modern, rounded design (reminiscent of a balloon) and was only introduced onto the market in 2006. The watch is rumoured to have been a gift from Prince William to celebrate their third wedding anniversary in 2014, and it’s clearly a treasured piece in her collection, as she is rarely seen without it.
The Duchess of Sussex’s Birks Snowflake Snowstorm Diamond Earrings
The Duchess of Sussex was living in Canada when she first met Prince Harry. We know now that she not only fell in love with her future husband during that time, but also with a collection of jewels from Canadian luxury jeweller Birks. She’s worn several pieces from the house, which was founded in Montreal in 1879, but our guess is that her most favourite pieces are her 18ct White Gold Birks Snowflake Snowstorm Diamond Earrings, said to be inspired by icy Canadian winters (an issue she undoubtedly no longer has to deal with in her beachy new home base of Santa Barbara, California.) She’s worn them on several high-profile occasions, including her first solo appearance at the Royal Academy of Arts, en-route to Windsor Castle for her wedding rehearsal, and during Royal visits to Ireland, Morocco, and Tonga. The large pavé designs with 2.15 total carats of Diamonds are undoubtedly flattering and fit for a Duchess.
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Her Majesty the Queen’s Cullinan Diamond Brooch, a.k.a. “Granny’s Chips”
Speculated to be one of the Queen’s most favourite jewels (and she surely has plenty to choose from), this 150+ carat double Diamond brooch is probably one of the world’s most impressive jewellery pieces in existence, period. Both gems were cut from the famous Cullinan Diamond, a specimen which was unearthed in South Africa in 1905 and known for its impeccable clarity. Named for the then chairman of the mine, the Cullinan is still one of the largest clear-cut Diamonds mined to date at 3106 carats (!) The gem was eventually given to King Edward VII as a gift, and later sent to Amsterdam for cutting. The stone was cut into multiple smaller gems, which is rumoured to have taken three craftsmen over 18 months, and eventually included the Cullinan III, a pear-cut, and IV, a cushion-cut. The Diamonds were eventually given to Queen Mary, who preferred to wear them together as one spectacular pendant brooch. The brooch was bequeathed to Queen Elizabeth II, from her grandmother Queen Mary shortly before her coronation, and Queen Mary’s own passing. Due to the circumstances, the brooch clearly holds much sentimental value, besides its extraordinary monetary value (which has been estimated at over £50 million), and she affectionately, and quite famously, has dubbed the piece “Granny’s Chips.”
The Duchess of Cambridge’s Asprey Diamond Oak Leaf Hoop Earrings
These chic yet whimsical 18 carat Yellow Gold hoop earrings from Asprey’s Woodland collection feature an intertwined oak leaf motif said to be inspired by the English woods, and are luxuriously paved with Diamonds. While Catherine has multiple Asprey pieces she wears from time to time, these earrings seem to be a particular favourite as she keeps them in frequent rotation. While Catherine is an obvious supporter of spending time in nature, the oak leaves are an especially meaningful symbol to her, since they feature in the family coat of arms the Middleton family was granted upon her wedding to Prince William. The leaves are a symbol of the oak trees that surround West Berkshire, the location of their family home. Oak leaves were also featured in her famous White Gold and Diamond wedding earrings, a gift from her parents, which she has only been seen wearing in public a couple of times since, the last being at a 2019 Easter service with the Royal family, which was shortly before her and Prince William’s eighth wedding anniversary.
The Duchess of Sussex’s Cartier Galanterie de Cartier Diamond Earrings
First seen on Meghan just weeks before her wedding at a reception for Invictus Games, these chic Art Deco-esque Cartier Galenterie de Cartier earrings soon made many more appearances in that short amount of time leading up to their now-famous appearance at the Royal Wedding ceremony. Our guess is that they were an early wedding gift ahead of the big day. Gifted from her Prince, perhaps, or another member of the Royal family, considering their long-standing relationship with Cartier, and the brand’s frequent inclusion in Royal Weddings. The classic 18 carat White Gold and Diamond studs were the perfect accompaniment to the Queen Mary Diamond bandeau Tiara leant to Meghan from Her Majesty the Queen for the special occasion. The Duchess also wore a stunning Reflection de Cartier Diamond bracelet, also in an Art Deco style, which is said to have been a gift from Prince Charles, along with a matching pair of earrings which she wore to the wedding reception at Frogmore House. Meanwhile, the Galenterie de Cartier earrings have remained in regular use, and were worn by the Duchess at another very meaningful event: Archie’s christening.
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Her Majesty the Queen’s the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara
Known as Her Majesty’s favourite and most meaningful diadem, the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara was another gift from her grandmother Queen Mary, this time on the occasion of her wedding. The Garrard-made tiara was originally gifted to Queen Mary for her wedding in 1893 from a committee of women, led by Lady Eva Greville, later to become one of her ladies-in-waiting, who raised money for its creation. The original tiara was made of Diamonds and natural teardrop-shaped Pearls, and set into Silver and Gold. It was also crafted with multiple frames, which allowed it to be worn in many ways, including as a cornet and a necklace. After Queen Elizabeth inherited it, it instantly became one of her favourite pieces and is now considered one of the only tiaras she will wears regularly. She has worn it on endless important occasions, including, quite famously for a portrait taken on her 25th birthday, which has been used throughout the commonwealth on banknotes, coinage and stamps. Queen Mary eventually replaced the Pearls on the tiara with Diamonds, with the Pearls later being used to fashion the Lover's Knot tiara—which was leant by Queen Elizabeth to Princess Diana on the occasion of her wedding (though Diana famously wore the Spencer tiara for the ceremony), and is now also known as one of the Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite tiaras.