The Lover's Knot Tiara was created in 1913 by Garrand's Jewelers at Queen Mary's request ... she wanted to recreate the tiara owned by her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassell.
The tiara was originally composed of 19 lover's knot arches and 38 drop-shaped natural pearls. Today, only 19 of those pearls are used as part of the tiara, which swing gently from each arch.
During her 75 year reign, the late Queen Elizabeth II wore some dazzling pieces of jewellery. Included among these were many Crown jewels but also jewels that she commissioned for herself. However, it was pearls that always stood out as her favourite gem, so much so, it was rare to see her without them.
Queen Elizabeth’s love for this lustrous gem began at an early age. She grew up seeing her mother and grandmother wearing necklaces, brooches, earrings and rings set with the finest natural pearls. This was because pearl jewellery was (and is) an elegant and beautiful choice. In addition, they the fit the etiquette of refined daytime wear but just as easily transitioned to evening splendour.
On her wedding day 1947, Queen Elizabeth (then Princess Elizabeth) wore not one but two natural pearl necklaces - the Queen Anne necklace and the Queen Caroline necklace. Always worn together, these two necklaces often look like a single two-strand necklace, probably because the colour, lustre and size of the pearls of both necklaces match so well. These two necklaces were given to Princess Elizabeth as a wedding gift from her parents.
Queen Elizabeth was often seen wearing different three-strand pearl necklaces. In fact, the three-strand pearl necklace became her most readily recognized jewelled accessory. While it is difficult to tell many of her three-strand necklaces apart, three of them stood out as her favorites.
The first was a gift to her from her father, King George VI, which was in keeping with a long-held family tradition that started many generations ago. According to jewellery historian Leslie Field, Queen Victoria would give her daughters and granddaughters one pearl, as a gift, on each birthday. By the time the princesses turned eighteen, they had collected enough pearls to string into a necklace.
Queen Elizabeth’s father, following this custom, gave her two pearls on her birthday every year. Consequently, when she turned eighteen, the Queen was able to wear these pearls in an impressive three-strand necklace. Since this necklace was a gift from her beloved father, with whom she was especially close, it always held a special meaning for her. The Queen loved this pearl necklace tremendously and later had an identical one made so she would not wear out the much-loved original.
Inherited from Queen Victoria in 1952, these large natural drop-shaped pearls are suspended from large round diamond studs from the Royal Jewels at the top. Queen Elizabeth II wore these pearl earrings to some of her most important occasions such as state banquets, openings of parliament and other royal state functions.
The photo above is from her coronation where she also wore the famous Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara, the Dorset Bow brooch and the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace.
The magnificent natural pearls are incredibly large, smooth, lustrous and incredibly well-matched. Creating a perfect match of tear-drop shaped pearls in sizes over 11.0mm get exponentially harder to do even with cultured, farmed pearls, but to own a pair of natural pearl drops like this ... truly these are Royal pearls.
To commemorate her first state visit to Japan in 1975, Queen Elizabeth was given a set of very fine Japanese cultured Akoya pearls by the government of Japan. A few years later, the Queen commissioned her court jeweller, Garrard, to set these pearls into a four strand choker necklace with a curved diamond clasp.
She also loaned it to her daughter-in-law, the late Princess Diana as well as to her granddaughter-in-law, Princess Kate. The necklace was once again thrust into the spotlight when Princess Kate wore it to Prince Philip’s funeral last year and then to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral last month. Princess Kate’s choice of jewellery on both these sad occasions underscores the importance of this necklace for Queen Elizabeth.
The Golden Jubilee Pearl Necklace came to Queen Elizabeth II by way of inheritance ... the necklace originally was gifted to her grandmother, Queen Victoria upon the occasion of her own Golden Jubilee celebration.
Hugh Roberts describes the necklace as having “eight graduated brilliant-set trefoil links, 12 smaller links and a snap, each centred by a graduated pearl, the crowned quatrefoil centre with pearl drop; the centre and six flanking links detachable for use as brooches or pins … the necklace reduced by two small links at a later date.”
The Lover's Knot pearl tiara is perhaps one of the most famous tiaras known today, thanks to Queen Elizabeth II and Princesses Diana and Kate Middleton. The Lover's Knot originally featured 38 natural drop-shaped pearls, suspended from diamond-accented lover's knot arches, and positioned above them. This arrangement was altered to only have 19 drops hanging below the arches since the 1950s.
The Lover's Knot tiara became a part of the Crown Jewels, and was loaned to Princess Diana who wore it often, until she divorced from Prince Andrew. The tiara then stayed quietly in the royal vaults until the Duchess Kate Middleton was granted permission to wear it in tribute to both Queen Elizabeth II and her husband's mother, Princess Diana. She's since made it nearly a staple in her formal attire, wearing it often to formal occasions for many years.
For more on the royal pearl jewellery of Queen Elizabeth II, please click the link below: