The British royal family has spent centuries accumulating one of the most impressive jewelry collections in the world - the kind of items that we won't see even in the most luxurious shops. Here's a closer look.
The Queen’s four-strand pearl necklace - $30,000+
According to Leslie Field, the author of The Queen's Jewels, "There has never been a queen who didn't wear pearls." And Queen Elizabeth II was no exception, though her pearls were a little different.
She came upon this sophisticated piece while visiting Japan back in the 1970s. The Japanese government commissioned Garrard, the royal's favorite luxury jeweler, to create this pearl necklace. They then presented it as a gift to the visiting queen, which she would regularly wear for decades to follow.
Queen Alexandra’s amethyst sautoir necklace - $60,000
This next royal necklace is a French design, described as a sautoir necklace. Sautoirs are necklaces with longer than-normal chains that typically have a hanging ornament of some kind in the middle, as can be seen on this necklace worn by Queen Consort Camilla. It was originally owned by Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII.
Two years prior to Alexandra’s passing, this beloved amethyst necklace was given to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon as a wedding gift after her marriage to Prince Albert, Duke of York. Her husband would pass his royal inheritance to King George VI and eventually George’s daughter, Elizabeth II.
The Carrington Feather Brooch - $85,000
It's not all tiaras and necklaces in the royal collection! Just take a look at this simple, demure brooch worn by the late Queen. The Carrington Feather Brooch was often worn to accentuate and accessorize royal outfits, and Queen Elizabeth was known to favor this silver brooch with blue clothing in particular.
Similar to many other famous pieces of royal jewelry, the feather brooch was originally a wedding gift given to the Queen by Carrington jewelers. And according to The Court Jeweller, she knew exactly how to use it, "only wearing the brooch with blue or purple clothing, helping to emphasize the shifting color of the gemstone."
Queen Mother’s maple-leaf brooch - $120,000+
And Queen Elizabeth wasn’t the only one who liked to wear brooches regularly. They were also a favorite of Elizabeth The Queen Mother. This striking maple leaf brooch might be the most iconic and recognizable brooch in the royal collection, and both the Queen and her mother wore it regularly.
King George VI gifted the unique and delicate brooch to his wife in the spring of 1939, and it quickly became one of her favorite pieces of jewelry. It was given to her on a state visit to Canada, hence the shape of a maple leaf, the country's national symbol. It was designed and crafted by luxury jeweler Asprey.
Queen Elizabeth's Brazilian aquamarine necklace - $180,000+
When a monarch begins their role as king or queen, it is a momentous occasion. So when the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was announced, admirers and gifts flooded in from all corners of the world. One of these gifts was this incredible Brazilian aquamarine necklace.
As the name suggests, it was given to the new queen by Getúlio Vargas, Brazil’s then-president, as a gift for her 1953 coronation. It came as part of a set that included a pair of emerald-cut matching earrings, which Elizabeth was so pleased with that she even commissioned a matching tiara.
Camilla's Cubitt-Shand tiara - $300,000
Anyone who has followed the life and looks of new Queen Consort Camilla Parker-Bowles will know that she is fond of her tiaras. In fact, it is said that this is one of the smallest and most modest pieces in her possession. However, it has made an impression due to its sentimental and historical value.
Unlike many royal pieces, this stunning tiara was not handed down through the Windsor family. Instead, Camilla inherited it from her mother, Rosalind, who, in turn, received it from her mother, Sonia Keppel. It is a piece that is close to Camilla’s heart, and she has since passed it down to her own daughter Laura.
Queen Mary’s diamond choker - $300,000+
The new generation of royalty is switching things up a bit, both in terms of their lifestyles and their fashion sense! Here we have Kate Middleton wearing Queen Mary’s diamond choker - only she isn’t wearing it on her neck! Instead, she favors wearing the dense diamond-crusted choker as a bracelet.
But she isn't the first one. Kate actually got the idea of wearing the former Queen Mary's iconic 1920s choker from her husband's grandmother, as Queen Mary was also said to wear the choker as a bracelet on occasion. We can't help but wonder how much it weighs!
Queen Alexandra’s pearl parure - $360,000
This incredible pearl parure necklace entered the royal family all the way back in 1863, when Alexandra of Denmark married into the family, becoming the wife of the future King Edward VII. To celebrate their marriage ceremony, Alexandra was given this brilliant delicate necklace as a wedding gift from Garrard.
And it wasn’t just the necklace. This pearl parure came as one part of a 4-piece set alongside matching earrings, a brooch, and a tiara. The original 19th-century value of the necklace was listed as £13,680, which today has soared to over £300,000. The 4-piece set is now a favorite of Kate Middleton.
Ceylon Sapphire engagement ring - $360,000
It’s hard enough for a regular woman to choose her engagement ring - we can’t imagine what it would be like for a future princess! When entering a royal family, one has to regard every single aspect of a prospective ring, including not just its look but also its symbolic and historical significance.
So when Kate Middleton chose her engagement ring, she settled on this 12-carat ring, designed by Garrard and crafted from a Sri Lankan sapphire. To many, this was a perfect choice, considering that it qualified as “something borrowed, something blue,” and it was originally owned by her betrothed’s mother, Princess Diana.
Russian Sapphire Cluster Brooch - $600,000
It seems the late Queen Elizabeth II truly loved to wear her brooches in her later years and did an excellent job of pairing these delicate accessories with tastefully chosen outfits. Just look at how she wore this colorful purple dress suit with a Russian sapphire cluster brooch, originally owned and worn by Marie Feodorovna.
Feodorovna was once the Empress of Russia and married Tsar Alexander III in 1866. Her jewelry was passed down throughout her family, though many pieces were sold out of the family in the 20th century. This brooch was one such piece, purchased by Queen Mary in 1943 and later loved by her daughter and granddaughter.
Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara - $695,000
It’s hard to find a more eye-catching piece of jewelry in the royal collection than the Kokoshnik tiara. This ostentatious headpiece was commissioned by the Ladies of Society group in 1888, which gifted it to Elizabeth II’s great-grandmother Queen Alexandra for her 25th wedding anniversary.
Since then, it has been passed on through the line of succession and was frequently worn by the late Queen Elizabeth II. During her reign, the Kokoshnik tiara appeared in public during various royal events, including the Queen’s visits to the Australian parliament (1951), Mexico (1975), and later Turkey (2008).
Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara - $1 million
This next piece has been beloved by many members of the royal family, passing from hand to hand (or should we say, head to head) for all manner of state events. But the first person to ever wear it was Queen Mary, hence the name Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot tiara.
The tiara was commissioned in 1913 and heavily influenced by the iconic Cambridge’s Lover’s Knot, Mary’s aunt’s own tiara. It later became a favorite of the late Princess Diana and was not worn again until 18 years after her death. It has since been worn by Prince Charlotte, Kate Middleton, and Queen Elizabeth II.
Cartier Halo Scroll Tiara - $1.7 million
One of the biggest royal ceremonies of the 21st century so far was the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince Harry. The royal cohort was tasked with finding something old, new, borrowed, and blue, as per tradition. And they came upon the Cartier Halo Scroll tiara, the most perfect “borrowed” item any bride could ask for.
The Cartier tiara had been worn by various royal family members but had originally been purchased by George VI for his wife, the Queen Mother. It was then passed down to her daughter Elizabeth II for her 18th birthday, a deeply meaningful gift that made it particularly significant as a choice for Will and Kate’s wedding ceremony.
Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau - $2.4 million
The other most famous royal wedding of the century (so far) was the marriage of William’s brother, Harry, to his fiance Megan Markle. During their ceremony, Megan donned this gorgeous and understated bandeau with its unique Art Deco style. The bandeau is made of platinum and inlaid with diamonds, comprised of 11 patterned sections.
Queen Elizabeth to was said to be very fond of this unique piece and often wore it out at state events. However, it was originally made for her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1932 and commissioned by the country of Lincoln. Upon her passing in 1953, the tiara was given to her daughter.
Dubai Looped-Sapphire Demi-Parure - $3 million
This next matching sapphire and gold set was a rather glitzy and glamorous gift for Queen Elizabeth. It was purchased by Sheikh Rashid in 1979, the then-vice president, prime minister, and minister of defense for the United Arab Emirates. The set was crafted by the luxury goods brand Asprey.
However, it was quickly discovered that the set did not fit the Queen, no doubt to the Sheikh’s chagrin. The unique chain had come with a set of matching earrings and a ring, but both the earrings and necklace had to be resized. The leftover chains were then crafted into a matching bracelet using the ring as a centerpiece.
Lotus Flower Tiara - $4.8 million
And the Dubai Looped-Sapphire Demi-Parure wasn’t the only royal jewelry that had to be resized with parts being reused - in fact, this has been a common practice in the royal family. Let’s take a look at the Lotus Flower tiara, which was made out of pearl and diamond necklaces. This had also been a wedding gift to the Queen Mother.
When her husband-to-be, King George VI, first had it commissioned in 1923, the Lotus Flower was a gorgeous necklace that was repurposed into a tiara just six months later at the new Queen’s behest. It has since been worn publicly by both Queen Elizabeth II and Kate Middleton multiple times over the years.
The Belgian Sapphire Tiara - $6 million
Another incredible sapphire set, the Belgian Sapphire tiara, was made in coordination with "a set of Victorian-era sapphire jewels that the Queen already owned," according to The Court Jeweller. She was gifted this extravagant set in 1947, courtesy of her father, King George VI.
In later years both a bracelet and a ring were created to complement the collection. Also known as the Victorian Sapphire tiara, this headpiece was worn by Queen Elizabeth II during her early years as a princess all the way toward the end of her reign.
Burmese Ruby Tiara - $6 million
Tiaras are truly the signature type of jewelry for this royal family! And up next, we have the Burmese Ruby tiara, a jaw-dropping piece made from a tiara gifted by the Nizam of Hyderabad, India’s former royal family, who had it commissioned for Queen Elizabeth II especially.
As with many tiaras, it was a wedding gift for her on the day of her royal wedding to Prince Phillip in 1947. And similar to even more tiaras, it is actually a piece that was made anew out of the deconstructed tiara that had been gifted to her by the Nizam of Hyderabad.
Queen Mary’s fringe tiara - $6 million+
Possibly the most incredible gift any jeweler could ask for, this Garrard-made fringe tiara had pride of place at a once-in-a-lifetime event - the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II to her fiance Prince Philip in 1947. Constructed from gold and silver, this tiara is inlaid with 46 diamond points and is a piece truly fit for a queen.
This stunning piece was first made by Garrard for Elizabeth’s grandmother Queen Mary, who commissioned it in 1919. Aside from Queen Elizabeth, it was also worn at the weddings of Princess Anne and Princess Beatrice. The tiara was made from a set of Queen Mary’s diamonds and can even be broken down into a necklace.
The Queen’s Oriental Circlet Tiara - $7.2 million+
This next delicate and unique-looking tiara is known as the Oriental Circlet and is one of the oldest pieces on this list. It was made back in 1853 and designed for the then Queen Victoria. As can be seen below, the rubies and diamonds inlaid into this piece were structured to look like flowers set into arches.
It reportedly holds a whopping 2,600 diamonds and has been through its fair share of alterations over the years. Upon Queen Victoria’s death, the next Queen Alexandra had opals set into the tiara along with a matching pair of earrings, a necklace, and a brooch. Eventually, the opals were replaced with more rubies.
Greville Festoon Necklace - $8 million
An absolute showstopper of a necklace, the Greville Festoon necklace (also known as the Boucheron Honeycomb tiara) has been turning heads since 1901. It was crafted by Cartier that year and originally made with only platinum and diamonds before it was remodeled with the additional marquise stone.
But this piece has a comparatively unique background, as it was originally owned by society hostess Margaret Greville - rather than a member of the royal family. Greville was an elite jewelry collector with a number of lavish pieces, but she chose to leave almost all of her collection to the Queen Mother upon her death.
The Prince Albert Brooch - $9.6 million
Let’s rewind back to 1840, on the eve of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s wedding day. Leading up to the wedding, Prince Albert had secretly commissioned Garrard to create a beautiful, ornate brooch as a gift for his soon-to-be wife. This became known as the Prince Albert brooch.
The brooch was "set in gold" and made with sapphire and diamonds, according to The Court Jeweler, and it made an enormous impression on Queen Victoria. She loved it so much that she wrote about it in her diary, calling it "a splendid brooch, a large sapphire set round with diamonds, which is really quite beautiful."
Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara - $12 million
Another classic by Garrard, the Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara is also one of the most innovative pieces in the royal collection due to its transformative functions. Its 15 circular diamonds can be swapped out for emeralds depending on which jewel suits the occasion best.
As can be construed by its name, this special tiara was originally crafted for the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia. It was made in the late 19th century, but a few decades later, the Duchess fled Russia for Britain during the revolution, and it was eventually sold to Queen Mary.
Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara - $14 million
Here we have another incredible piece of jewelry passed on from Margaret Greville to the royal family. This is the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara, created especially for Greville and gifted to her by the luxury French jewelry maker Boucheron in 1921. Since then, it has been passed on from royal generation to generation.
Though it was gifted to Windsor upon Greville’s passing in 1942, the emerald tiara disappeared from the public eye for around 80 years before popping up on the head of Princess Eugenie of York in 2018. The late Queen’s granddaughter wore the emerald-filled stunner during her wedding to Jack Brooksbank.
Princess Diana’s Saudi sapphire suite - $20 million
Many who followed the late Princess Diana’s life will know that she was extremely partial to sapphires - more than any other kind of jewel. Her 12-carat sapphire engagement ring made headlines back in 1981, and that year her collection expanded when the Saudi Royal family presented a matching sapphire suite as a wedding gift.
It was "an incredible jewelry suite, especially the necklace, which is a real show stopper," according to Crisscut Magazine. Along with the stunning necklace were a pair of earrings, a ring, and a wristwatch, all designed to match her engagement ring and created by London jeweler Asprey.
St. Edward’s Crown - $39 million
We've seen many tiaras - but this is the first crown to grace our list. It is known as St. Edward's crown, and it is a truly historical piece, called the "centerpiece of the British Crown Jewels" and "the most important and sacred of all the crowns," according to Historic Royal Palaces.
No surprise then that this item is under complete lock and key, supervised by maximum security at the Tower of London. It is such a sacred piece that Queen Elizabeth II only ever wore it once - to validate her coronation in 1953. She might have been thankful for that fact, considering that the crown contains five pounds of gold!
Cullinan III & IV Brooch - $60 million
The simple and elegant Cullinan III & IV brooch is said to have the fourth-largest diamond cut in the royal collection, due to the iconic Cullinan Diamond, which contributed to the jewels found in this piece. It is so well-known and central to the collection that it even held the spotlight at Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.
The Cullinan stone was allegedly a 3,106-carat diamond mined in South Africa in 1905, later cut into nine pieces (the largest being 530.2 carats). It was absolutely enormous and was promptly gifted to King Edward VII just two years later, and named after Thomas Cullinan, the boss of the mining company that found it.
Princess Diana’s Sapphire and Pearl Choker - $120 million
While wedding gifts tend to be extravagant, they don’t get any more luxurious than a royal wedding gift. At her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, Princess Diana received this incredible matching Sapphire and Pearl Choker as a gift from her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II herself.
"The Queen Mother's wedding present to Diana was a duck egg of a sapphire, surrounded by a double row of diamonds and mounted as a brooch," wrote Suzy Menkes in her 1985 book The Royal Jewels. Today the set is kept hidden away by Prince William and Harry and has not been seen in public since 1996.
The Cullinan I Diamond - $525 million
Let's backtrack to the Cullinan diamond. While it was separated into smaller stones, it still deserves a place on this list as one of the most valuable jewels ever owned by the royal family. According to WP Diamonds, the Cullinan is "the largest rough diamond of gem quality ever found."
Even today, it is considered one of the most incredible jewels ever discovered, which makes it even more amazing that it was given away. Instead of keeping the diamond, the owner of the mining company, Thomas Cullinane, presented the stone to King Edward VII. A few years later, it was officially named the most important Crown Jewel.
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond - $1 billion+
While the Cullinane diamond is certainly impressive, it is the Koh-i-Noor diamond that tops our list as the most impressive Crown Jewel. Today it is one of the most expensive diamonds in history and can be traced back to Indian diamond miners in the 1300s, thus causing years of controversy between citizens of both countries.
The 105-carat stone has had many owners over the years, from Mughal Emperors to Shahs of Iran, though today it has been set into the crown of Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother before her. Like the other crown mentioned on this list, the diamond crown is rarely ever worn in public.