Although many tiaras with shining stones, iridescent prints, diamond necklaces and earrings are inherited by the British monarchs, the royal family has several recognized jewelry houses that work hard to create the most impressive jewelry. We tell you who they are – the masters behind the luxurious tiaras and wedding rings of the royals.
Queen Elizabeth II owns a truly impressive historical collection of jewelry – some belong to her as a monarch, and others as a private person. Of course, jewelry does not just fall into the monarch’s collection. Any ring is the work of recognized masters, many of whom have been cooperating with the British family for a century and a half, since the reign of Queen Victoria. We tell about the most famous and recognized jewelry houses and their impressive works, which are now carefully stored in safes and vaults, in our material.
Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana in 1982
Bentley & Skinner
The main court jewelers have a special badge of distinction – a special royal warrant. The ability to keep secrets and appreciate the trust placed, knowledge of the traditions and nuances of filigree work with jewelry is a small list that a House that creates jewelry for the royal court should have. The Bentley & Skinner jewelry brand has not one, but two royal warrants – from the Queen and from Prince Charles. These warrants are “a mark of recognition of people or companies who have regularly supplied goods or services to Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales or their families.
The brand must be approved through the UK Cabinet Committee, in addition, it is necessary to appoint an employee in the company as an official warrant holder. After all the formalities are completed, the royal court gives its seal of approval. Of course, the presence of such a badge of distinction does not mean that brands can bask in the rays of glory for centuries – as soon as cooperation ceases, the order also loses its force. Royal warrants are issued for a maximum of five years at a time, after which they must be renewed. Bentley & Skinner received their first royal warrant back in the time of Queen Victoria in the 1800s.
A special nuance of working with the royal court is that the masters should not utter a word about the jewelry being created. “By prior arrangement, we can tell that we are jewelers, but we will not tell in detail what we create specifically for the royal family. They can talk about it, but we can’t,” said Omar Vazha, senior Sales director at Bentley & Skinner. So, if someone mistakenly calls a competitor of the brand the author of jewelry, no one can fix it, except for representatives of the British family. “No comment” is an important phrase that everyone who closely cooperates with the British monarchy has to remember.
In addition to creating impressive royal decorations, the house is trying to integrate into modernity. So, together with Damien Hirst, the jewelry house created its famous diamond masterpiece For the Love of God. This unique work of art is an exact replica of a human skull, cast in 2,156 grams of platinum and decorated with 8,601 diamonds. The filigree work, which is considered the most expensive piece of art sold by the master during his lifetime, took two years and almost a kilogram of platinum.
Along with working closely with the royal family, the jewelry house supplied jewelry to screen aristocrats. More recently, jewelers were involved in creating tiaras for the film “Downton Abbey”. Craftsmen from Bentley & Skinner created three historical pieces of art for members of the Crawley family that were featured in the film: the Victorian diamond leaf tiara worn by Dowager Countess Violet Crawley, the late Victorian diamond tiara worn by Lady Edith and the Edwardian diamond tiara worn by Lady Cora.
Countess Violet Crowley in the 2019 Downton Abbey movie
Another oldest jewelry house that has been serving the royal family for more than a century is the iconic Garrard brand. Its high-profile history begins in 1735, when Frederick, Prince of Wales, made his first order. And in 1843, during the time of Queen Victoria, Garrard was recognized as the official jewelry house of the royal court and supplied tiaras, necklaces, brooches and other impressive items for her. Garrard created unique jewelry that excites the hearts of not only other royals, but also women around the world. Their track record includes the iconic sapphire ring, which was presented to Diana by Prince Charles in honor of the engagement. It was later given to William and his beloved Kate Middleton.
Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring from Garrard
The same ring on the Duchess of Cambridge
Garrad created a lot of iconic jewelry, including the imperial crown worn by Queen Elizabeth on the day of her coronation, and the tiara she wore when she married Prince Philip.
Elizabeth and Prince Philip on coronation Day, June 2, 1953
The masters of the jewelry house were entrusted to encrust one of the oldest Kohinoor diamonds in the royal crown, and the Cullinan I diamond weighing 530 carats in the royal scepter. They are also known for their tiaras in the royal jewelry collection on display at the Tower of London. And, of course, the Garrard Jewelry House has a Royal Warrant.
Tiaras have become one of the main areas of the brand’s creativity – they recently launched a line of such jewelry that have less weight and a modernized appearance. The Cambridge Lovers Knot tiara, originally created for Queen Mary (she ordered a tiara in the image and likeness of her mother’s jewelry, Princess Augusta, in 1914). Later, the decoration was presented to Lady Diana Spencer on her wedding day, and now this tiara is often worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. Most tiaras are designed so that they can be worn in different ways – with a few movements, the masters can upgrade it as a necklace or brooch.
When creating new works of art, masters often take ideas from the past. Take, for example, the sapphire and diamond engagement ring of Princess Diana, which was given to the Duchess of Cambridge. The inspiration for this was a sapphire brooch that Prince Albert designed together with Garrard and presented to Queen Victoria on their wedding day in 1840.
G Collins & Sons
The history of the jewelry house begins in 1985, when Harry Collins opened his small shop in memory of his father. The jeweler’s mother lived above the store and brewed tea and coffee for customers while they waited for their jewelry to be cleaned. Gradually, the craftsman’s business grew, and already in 2000, the owner of G Collins & Sons was appointed the Queen’s personal jeweler. The jeweler still holds this proud title. In addition, in 2012, Harry Collins was responsible for recreating the crown of Henry VIII, which was exhibited at Hampton Court Palace.
The original decoration was destroyed in 1649 by Oliver Cromwell, the commander and leader of the English Revolution. The restored crown is decorated with 344 precious stones – rubies, sapphires and pearls. Now the task of the royal jeweler is to look after the Queen’s personal collection at Buckingham Palace, and for this he has organized his own workshop there.