One of the things that we particularly love about jewellery at Gatwards is that it often has meaning and significance for the wearer. Whether it is a traditional engagement or wedding ring to commemorate love and marriage or a beautiful ruby pendant for a ruby wedding anniversary or a piece that was left to you by a loved one – most jewellery has symbolism for the wearer.
Whether you are a royalist or not, there is no doubt that the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh last weekend was full of symbolism. We found the jewellery worn by the members of the royal family to the occasion both stunning and fascinating.
The Queen's Brooch
The Queen is known for selecting items of jewellery that have symbolism. On the day, she wore a beautiful and striking brooch made from diamonds and pearls which is known as the “Richmond brooch”. It originally belonged to her grandmother, Queen Mary, and was given to her as a wedding gift in 1893. Queen Mary predominantly wore the piece as a necklace and then the Queen inherited it in 1953 and tends to wear it as a brooch. She has also worn it to some happier occasions including on a lime green coat at Prince Harry’s wedding in 2018, and to her 90th birthday celebrations.
The Duchess of Cambridge's Necklace
Never one to put a foot wrong with dressing for special occasions, the Duchess of Cambridge also wore a beautiful piece of pearl and diamond jewellery. She paired her black coat with a four strand pearl choker with a pearl and diamond clasp, which she borrowed from the Queen for the occasion.
The Queen was given some pearls from Japan in the 1970s and had the piece made by the jeweller, Garrard. She lent it to Princess Diana for one of her very first royal engagements, a banquet at Hampton Court Palace in 1982. The Queen then lent it to the Duchess of Cambridge in 2017 when she wore it to the Queen and the Duke’s 70th wedding anniversary celebration.
The choker therefore had special meaning to Kate as it was her way of paying her respects to the late Princess Diana, and also to the love and marriage of the Queen and the Duke.
Diamonds and Pearls - A Royal Mourning Tradition
Wearing diamonds and pearls to a funeral has been a long tradition in the royal family dating back to the time of Queen Victoria. After the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, she wore only black for 40 years and accessorised her sombre dress with colourless jewellery. She wore long strands of pearls daily for the rest of her life, which represented tears of sorrow.
Victorian Mourning Jewellery
Mourning jewellery then became fashionable in the Victorian era with symbols of grief such as angels, clouds or the initials of the deceased displayed as motifs on pieces jewellery like brooches, rings and pendants.
Another common theme was incorporating some of the hair of the loved one in a piece of jewellery either in a traditional gold locket or interwoven into a centre piece with motifs or initials around it.
Dark colours were used such as Jet or black enamel to create striking items of jewellery that are now antique collectors items today.
That Princess of Wales Choker!
Of course pearls are not only worn by royals as mourning jewellery. Diana Princess of Wales made pearls very famous, and the “Princess of Wales Pearl Choker” has become something of a jewellery icon.
During the 1980s, she was often seen wearing a incredible pearl and sapphire choker which became her signature piece of jewellery. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother gave a large oval sapphire and diamond brooch to her new granddaughter-in-law shortly after her marriage to Prince Charles.
Diana initially wore the piece as a brooch but later had the brooch converted into a clasp as the centrepiece of a seven-strand pearl choker which she then wore to many occasions.
Possibly its most famous outing was in 1985, when she wore it to dance with John Travolta at the White House.Diana’s pearl choker sparked spawned a decade long craze for this classic style of necklace and we at Gatwards were regularly asked for rows of pearls in a similar style.
Diamonds and pearls have a timeless elegance that will never be out of place and will remain at the heart of most people’s jewellery collection for years to come.
Jewellery to last many lifetimes
At Gatwards, we feel the most important thing to remember when buying fine jewellery is that it is made to be worn and to last many lifetimes. Jewellery that is purchased today will hold meaning and significance for the wearer now but then it can be passed down and treasured by future generations to come.
It can also be re-modelled to suit the taste of the new owner just as the Queen’s brooch was once a necklace worn by her grandmother and Princess Diana’s sapphire and pearl choker was once a brooch.