It’s a smallish dark room but, wow, what a lot of sparklers. There are more than 10,000 diamonds set in tiaras, crowns (Diamond Diadem, above), brooches, swords, earrings and necklaces, on display at Buckingham Palace in a special exhibition Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration (until 7 October).
These stunning pieces were acquired by six monarchs over three centuries. Many of the stones have been recut or made into new settings, such as the Fringe Brooch, belonging to Queen Victoria. The larger stones in this brooch are believed to have come from one of the two jewels given to her by the Sultan of Turkey. She wrote in her journal of 8 May 1856 that she decided she could not wear one of the jewels and wished to have it reset. The result: a huge emerald-cut central stone, with smaller ones set around it from which nine strands of diamonds hang — a shimmering delight.
The ‘finest pink diamond ever discovered’ can also be seen here, in the Queen’s Williamson Diamond Brooch. It was found in 1947 in Tanganyika in a mine owned by a Canadian geologist who, lucky Princess, was also a confirmed royalist. The good Dr Williamson gave it (and some 200 smaller diamonds) to Princess Elizabeth as a wedding present and Cartier made the stones into a jonquil. Some flower.
And for those wanting a further diamond fix, Hugh Roberts has written a fascinating account of those in the royal collection (The Queen’s Diamonds, Royal Collection Publications, £60).