Over the last few months I have been asked to look into the royal jewellery collection from Kate Middleton’s engagement ring to Queen’s brooches and the vast tiara collection available to the royal family. This has involved hours of research, staring at photos of exquisite events the jewellery has been worn to and trying to place a value on what these pieces are worth.
The answer for this, to me, is quite simple - it’s priceless. There is absolutely a financial value that can be placed on the materials, the era it was made and by whom it was made but when you add who the jewellery belongs to I don’t believe you can truly put a price tag on the history it carries. If any of the jewels from the royal family came up for auction at Sotheby’s or Christie’s for example, I’m pretty sure most pieces would sell in the millions but I don’t think anyone would be able to accurately estimate a value.
It must be noted that I am not a registered valuer, this is just my humble opinion. Any financial values I give are based on research.
When looking at the individual pieces, for some I can find a lot of information, for others there is minimal available but what I have discovered is that most of it is passed down through generations and rarely commissioned new.
There is one brooch in particular that was commissioned for the Queen by Prince Philip, the Scarab brooch. This seems to be one of her favourite pieces and why wouldn’t it be when it must carry so much sentimental value.
Other pieces for instance, like the jewellery that has been given to the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, carry sentimental value of a mother who has passed. The late Princess Diana meant so much to her children and a nation, she was dearly cherished. Prince William and Prince Harry have made sure that her legacy lives on in the engagement ring’s that their wives were gifted.
And there is some, with not much sentimental value at all I imagine, that has been sat in the collection for years and barely worn.
In life I think we wear the jewellery that we feel most connected to and for instance, this could be why the queen favours the Scarab brooch, made by her favourite designer Andrew Grima and gifted to her by her husband.
The royal jewellery as I think we have established carries much legacy and perfectly backs up my belief that we carry our legacy in our jewellery.
Picture Queen Alexandra’s wedding necklace if you can… This is one of the most famous pieces of jewellery in the world and the royal family today adore wearing it. Why? Because it was so famously worn by a beautiful Queen but also because the jewellery itself is audacious and stunning. It is a true symbol of royal legacy from the 1900’s. Made by the famous jewellery house Garrard, this in itself carries another legacy.
If you picture your grandmother’s jewellery, tell me what it symbolises. Can you connect her legacy to it?
Many people don’t know that if you don’t like or can’t wear a piece of jewellery then you can have it altered or redesigned - it doesn’t just have to sit in your jewellery box forever! People who do realise this is possible though are the royal family.
The royals have been redesigning their jewellery for years. One of the most famous redesigns is Queen Elizabeth II’s ‘Burmese Ruby Tiara.’ It’s been made using the diamonds from a dismantled diadem and a set of rubies gifted to her as a wedding present. This may seem like an extravagant example but she’s our Queen, what do you expect!
Another more subtle redesign from the Duchess of Cambridge who was also given a set of earrings that also once belonged to Princess Diana. Kate altered them slightly so they suited her better and removed a few gemstones.
If you’re carrying a piece of jewellery that maybe you don’t feel particularly connected to but want to wear it, you can take it apart and put it back together again in a way that really means something to you. Alternatively, you may have a piece you feel extremely connected to but can’t wear for some reason, like it’s too old and delicate - well you can redesign this too. (Or have it restored to its former beauty.)
To learn more about jewellery redesign please download my brochure or book onto one of my coffee connections where we talk about heirlooms, legacy and jewellery redesign.