Diana, Princess of Wales's jewels

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Diana wearing a pearl necklace and pearl earrings, featuring double wire of gold with diamonds and four equidistant knots, during a visit to Washington, D.C. in June 1997

Diana, Princess of Wales, was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, and the mother of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. She owned a collection of jewels–both as a member of the British royal family and as a private individual. They were separate from the coronation and state regalia of the Crown Jewels.

Most of her jewels were either presents from foreign royalty, on loan from Queen Elizabeth II, wedding presents, purchased by Diana herself, and heirlooms belonging to the Spencer family. Her jewellery was a mix of precious stones and costume pieces, often reported by the media as being "priceless", which the Princess found amusing.[1] Most of the jewellery dates from the 19th and 20th centuries.

At formal occasions, such as banquets, the Princess normally wore jewellery lent to her by the Queen, who owns more than 300 items of jewellery.[2]

Early jewellery[edit]

Born into an affluent aristocratic family, Diana Spencer owned some high quality jewellery. Prior to her marriage to Prince Charles, the Princess often wore two rings on her right hand. The rings remained in the Princess's collection but were rarely seen in public during her marriage. Occasionally she was photographed wearing both rings on her left hand.

As a teenager, Diana wore a gold choker with a 'D' pendant.[3] In 2017, a sterling silver 'D' necklace owned by the princess as a teenager sold at auction for around US$8,000.[4][3] Diana was photographed wearing her initial necklace as a nursery assistant while still dating Charles. She was also photographed wearing sterling silver earrings with five diamonds. After marrying Charles, the princess wore the gold 'D' choker.[5]

At the age of 17, Diana was a bridesmaid at Robert and her sister Jane Fellowes wedding on the 20th of April 1978. She wore a pair of pearl studs and a pearl necklace.

On her 18th birthday, Diana was given a triple-strand pearl choker by the Spencer family.[6] Both of Diana's older sisters had also received matching chokers on their 18th birthdays.[7] It consisted of three rows of pearls with a turquoise and pearl cluster clasp; the clasp was only visible when it matched the colour of her outfit, otherwise hidden at the back. The Princess later altered the clasp to be all pearls.[5]

Wedding jewels[edit]

The wedding of Charles and Diana took place on 29 July 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral, London.[8] The Princess wore very little jewellery at her wedding, billed as the "Wedding of the Century". She wore diamond earrings that belonged to her mother, Frances Shand Kydd. She also wore her Spencer family tiara, her engagement ring, and a wedding band placed on her finger by Charles at the ceremony. Her wedding dress designers, the Emanuels, also attached an 18-carat gold horseshoe trinket studded with white diamonds to the label of the dress.[9]

Frances Shand Kydd Diamond Earrings[edit]

The earrings that Diana wore on her wedding day were composed of a central pear-shaped diamond surrounded by around 50 smaller diamonds. While the Princess never borrowed her mother's diamond earrings, Frances wore the earrings at a number of important occasions, including Prince Harry's christening in 1984, her son's wedding in 1992, and the funeral of her daughter in 1997. After her death in 2004, the earrings were inherited by her eldest daughter, Lady Sarah McCorquodale.

For many years, Frances Shand Kydd's diamond earrings were a part of the traveling Diana Exhibition. In 2011, it made headlines when Sarah McCorquodale withdrew them from the exhibition to wear at the wedding ball of her nephew, Prince William.[10]

The Spencer Family Tiara[edit]

Though this piece was once said to date from the 18th century, the Spencer Tiara is actually made up of other pieces of jewellery of varying ages and from different jewellers that has gone through several changes over time. The centre element was a wedding present from Lady Sarah Isabella Spencer to Cynthia, Viscountess Althorp (Diana's grandmother), when she married Albert, Viscount Althorp, the future 7th Earl Spencer, in 1919. This piece was remounted by the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company at some point, and Garrard was asked to create four matching pieces in 1937 to add on.[6] The oldest bits are at the ends; these are said to have come from a tiara once belonging to Frances Manby, the last Viscountess Montagu, and left to Lady Sarah Spencer in 1875. The full current appearance apparently dates from around 1935.[7] The tiara includes diamonds in silver settings mounted in gold in various floral shapes: stylized tulips, star-shaped flowers, and scrolling foliage. It was worn by both of Lady Diana Spencer's older sisters, Jane and Sarah, at their weddings before it was worn by Diana. However, Diana's mother, Frances, did not wear the tiara when she married into the Spencer family in 1954. While Diana's mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, loaned her the Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara for the wedding, the princess-to-be decided to stick to her family roots and go with the Spencer tiara for the big day.[11] Diana frequently wore the Spencer Tiara throughout her life as it was said that it was lighter and easier to wear than the other royal items.

Tiaras and headbands[edit]

Diana, Princess of Wales, received many pieces of jewellery from Queen Elizabeth II. Some of the most famous pieces Diana wore were tiaras.

Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara[edit]

In 1913, Garrard & Co (the first official Crown Jewellers) were asked by Queen Mary to make a replica of a tiara owned by her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel, using the Queen Mary's own diamonds and pearls. The tiara, in its French neo-classical design, has 19 oriental pearls suspended from lover's knot bows each centred with a large brilliant diamond. Mary left the tiara to Elizabeth II, who later gave it to Diana[12] in 1981 as a wedding present. Diana was to wear the tiara during her wedding but she instead opted for her Spencer family tiara. The Princess wore this piece very often as it was given to her on loan. Diana complained about the 'swinging pearls',[13] but she wore it at most of her tiara events. She most notably wore it with her 'Elvis dress' on a visit to Hong Kong in 1989, but on her divorce from Prince Charles it was returned to the Queen.[14] Diana was allowed to keep her jewellery as part of the divorce settlement, but as the tiara was on loan from the Queen, it was given back and, reportedly, put into a safe at Buckingham Palace.

In 2015, the Duchess of Cambridge wore it to a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace.[15]

Queen Mary's Diamond and Emerald Choker[edit]

Made from a present of emeralds and diamonds from the Ladies of India,[7] this Art Deco choker was created by Garrards in 1921 for Queen Mary.[5] Given as a wedding gift to Diana from the Queen, who inherited the piece from her grandmother in 1953, it was worn as a Bandeau during a dance in Melbourne.[16] It was worn as a choker to other events.[17] The Prince of Wales also presented his wife with a diamond and emerald Art Deco bracelet as a wedding present and matching emerald earrings as a gift for her 22nd birthday.[18] The choker is now in the Queen's collection.

Diamond and Sapphire Choker[edit]

Created from a ring and watch from the Princess's Saudi Arabian sapphire and diamond suite (which was a present from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia),[7] Diana wore this choker on her forehead at a banquet during a visit to Japan.[5]

Necklaces and pendants[edit]

Seven-strand Pearl and Sapphire Choker[edit]

As a wedding present, the Queen Mother gave a large oval sapphire and diamond brooch her new granddaughter-in-law.[19] In the early years of her marriage, Diana wore the piece as a brooch, including the famous appearance during the Dutch State Visit to the Netherlands in 1982, when the Princess had to find a new gown and jewels after Queen Beatrix gave her the orange Sash of the Order of the Crown.

Diana wearing the Pearl and Sapphire Choker while dancing with Ronald Reagan during her official visit to the USA in 1985

However, soon after the wedding, the Princess had the sapphire brooch converted into the clasp for a magnificent seven-strand pearl choker.[20] One of the earliest famous appearances was in 1985, when she wore the choker to dance with John Travolta at the White House.[6] A favourite piece of jewellery, the Princess wore this seven-strand pearl and sapphire choker for occasions at home and abroad. Another famous appearance of the sapphire choker was in 1994, when the Princess wore the piece (with the daring 'revenge' dress) on the night the Prince of Wales confessed to adultery with Camilla Parker Bowles.[21]

The seven-strand pearl and sapphire choker was one of the rare 'big' jewels from her marriage that Diana continued to wear after her divorce. The last time the choker was publicly seen was when the Princess attended the Met Gala in New York in December 1996.[22][23] It hasn't been seen or exhibited since, and now belongs to Prince William and Prince Harry.

Though unconfirmed, many speculate Meghan Markle's engagement ring, which she first wore in November 2017 at her engagement announcement with Prince Harry, includes two diamonds from Diana's famous sapphire and pearl choker. The engagement ring consists of three large diamonds, with one stone in the center flanked by two smaller stones.[24] According to Harry, the side stones are from his mother's jewellery collection (though it's unclear which piece of jewellery they are from).[21]

Four-row Japanese Pearl Choker[edit]

This piece was given to Diana as a loan from the Queen. The Princess first wore the choker during a state visit to the Netherlands in November 1982. The choker contains four rows of Japanese cultured pearls with a central diamond clasp. The piece is now being worn by the Duchess of Cambridge who uses it as a loan from the Queen.[25][26]

Engraved Gold Pendant[edit]

Following the birth of Prince William, the Prince of Wales presented his wife with a gold pendant that had their son's name engraved on it. This became a tradition in the family, and in 2013 the Duchess of Cambridge received a gold disc from her sister which bears the name of her eldest son, Prince George, and the first letter of her husband's name.[27]

Swan Lake Necklace[edit]

Created by Garrard & Co and made out of 187 diamonds and five South Sea pearls, the necklace was worn by Diana during an appearance at a performance of Swan Lake by the English National Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall two months before her death in 1997. The necklace was created together with a set of earrings, but following her death the suite was sold with permission from her family. The necklace was sold to an Ukrainian couple in 2010 who put it on sale in 2017 at Guernsey's. It was estimated to worth about $12 million at the time.[28][29]

Eleven-strand Pearl Choker[edit]

Made out of "900 pearls paired with columns of diamonds and rubies", this eleven-strand choker was one of Diana's favourite pieces, which she often wore at theatre and film premiers.[7][30]

King Faisal of Saudi Arabia Necklace[edit]

A gift from King Faisal of Saudi Arabia to Queen Elizabeth II, it is a fringe necklace in design and set with brilliant and baguette cut diamonds. King Faisal bought the necklace, made by the American jeweller Harry Winston, and presented it to her while on a state visit to the United Kingdom in 1967. The Queen lent the necklace to Diana to wear on a state visit to Australia in 1983.[31]

King Khalid of Saudi Arabia Necklace[edit]

This necklace was given to Queen Elizabeth II by King Khalid of Saudi Arabia in 1979. It is of the sunray design and contains both round and pear shaped diamonds. Like the King Faisal necklace, it was made by Harry Winston, and the Queen often lent the necklace to Diana.[32]

Children's Caring Cross[edit]

On 24 April 1991, Diana visited a hostel for abandoned children at a FEBEM Foundation for Child Welfare in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She was extensively photographed wearing a gold cross and chain which the children at the hostel played with. This cross and chain was donated by the Princess for a charity auction which was to take place early in September 1997. Due to the unexpected death of the Princess, the cross was put into storage for 20 years and subsequently sold to a young Australian collector.[1]

Rings[edit]

Engagement ring[edit]

A replica of Lady Diana Spencer's engagement ring

Lady Diana Spencer and Charles, Prince of Wales, became engaged in February 1981. Her engagement ring consisted of 14 solitaire diamonds surrounding a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18-karat white gold.[33][34] It was created by then-crown jeweller Garrard.

Diana's selection of this ring was unusual. It was neither custom-made nor unique and was, at the time of her engagement to Charles, featured in Garrard's jewellery collection and available to anyone for purchase.[35] Some commentators say Diana selected it because it reminded her of her mother's engagement ring, while others say that she chose it due to its big size.[35] The ring is said to bear a resemblance to Queen Victoria's sapphire-and-diamond wedding brooch, which was chosen for her by Prince Albert.[34] Diana continued to wear the ring even after her divorce from Prince Charles.[35]

After Diana's death, Princes William and Harry selected mementos from their mother's possessions. Harry chose the engagement ring, while William selected Diana's £19,000 yellow gold Cartier Tank Francaise watch. They eventually exchanged mementos.[35] When Prince William proposed to Catherine Middleton in the autumn of 2010 in Kenya, he gave her the ring.[36] William later said that giving the ring to his fiancée was a "way of making sure my mother didn't miss out on today and the excitement."[36] Middleton eventually had the ring resized because she had lost weight prior to the wedding. Her finger being an H, she asked Crown Jewellers G Collins and Sons to attach two platinum studs to it to make it a size I.[37]

After the engagement was announced, some called the ring the "Commoner's Sapphire," a reference to the bride's non-royal origins.[38] Others considered the ring a tragic symbol associated with Diana's failed marriage to the Prince of Wales and untimely death in a car accident in Paris.[39]

Earrings[edit]

Sapphire Earrings[edit]

Originally a part of her Saudi suite[21] and a match for her engagement ring, Diana wore these Sapphire Earrings both in the form of double drop earrings and studs. The piece has now been passed to her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, who had them modified into a set single drop sapphire earrings and has worn them at numerous official outings.[40][41]

Diamond and South Sea Pearl Earrings[edit]

Diana wearing the Diamond and South Sea Pearl Earrings at an event in Italy, September 1995

Featuring "a circular design of diamonds and a single diamond-encrusted pear", these dangling earrings were worn by Diana at numerous occasions in the 1990s. Diana last wore them at an appearance at the Royal Albert Hall, but had the pearl drops removed for this outing. The earrings were later passed to Prince William who gave them to his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge. The Duchess had the earrings modified and replaced the original pearl drops with smaller pearls.[42] The piece was first worn by the Duchess at the red carpet for the 71st British Academy Film Awards.[43][44]

Collingwood Pearl Earrings[edit]

The pair of earrings was given to Diana as a wedding present from her husband. The earrings were created by the Collingwood jewelers and worn by Diana at different outings and engagements. She first wore them at an outing a month before her marriage to Charles. They are now under the possession of the Princess's daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, who first wore them in 2017 during a state banquet and has continued to wear them occasionally.[45][46][47]

Aquamarine and Diamond Earrings[edit]

The Princess of Wales wearing the Aquamarine and Diamond Earrings at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival

First worn by the Princess of Wales at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, the earrings were made out of "whopping pear-shaped aquamarines, surrounded by diamonds and suspended from a diamond flower cluster".[48]

Pearl, Sapphire, and Ruby Earrings[edit]

An example of mix-and-match statement studs, the earrings were made out of a pearl and a large blue sapphire on one side, and a pearl and large red ruby on the other. The Princess famously wore them during a visit to South Korea in 1992.[7][49]

Emir of Qatar Floral Pearl Earrings[edit]

Given to the Princess as a wedding present from the Emir of Qatar, the earrings featured "white diamonds in a floral shape and cream-coloured pearls". Diana wore the pair many times at various outings and events.[7][50][51]

Greville Pear-drop Earrings[edit]

Alongside 60 other pieces of jewellery, Margaret Greville left Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) a set of pear-drop earrings that she had bought from Cartier in 1938. The earrings had been made using family stones. The pear-shaped drop diamonds each weigh about 20 carats (4 g). Diana borrowed them in 1983 to wear on her first official visit to Australia. At a state banquet, she wore the earrings with the Spencer Family Tiara.[52]

Brooches[edit]

The Prince of Wales's Feathers Diamond Brooch[edit]

On her wedding day, Diana was given a brooch by the Queen Mother as a wedding present. The brooch shows the Prince of Wales's feathers and was often worn by the Princess as a diamond necklace with a cabochon emerald drop.[50]

Bracelets and watches[edit]

Gold Charm Bracelet[edit]

This piece was not often worn in the public by Diana. It was given to her by Prince Charles a wedding present, and for ten years, the Prince of Wales would give his wife a different charm to be added to the bracelet on the anniversary of their wedding. The bracelet included "a miniature of St Paul's Cathedral", the location at which the couple had their wedding, "a pair of ballet shoes" as the Princess was a ballet fan, "a polo cap" representing her husband's love of polo, a bear as Diana loved teddy bears, an apple as a symbol of her fondness for New York, and also a pig. Two other charms with the engravings W and H were given to her by the Prince when their two sons were born.[53]

Three-strand Pearl Bracelet[edit]

Created by Nigel Milne, this bracelet was made out of three rows of pearls "with diamond and pearl spacers and clasp". The piece was famously worn by Diana during her visit to Hong Kong and together with the famous 'Elvis dress'. The piece now belongs to the Duchess of Cambridge, who first wore the bracelet during her official tour of Germany in 2017.[54][47]

Two-stoned Gold Bracelet[edit]

During an official engagement at the Lord Gage Centre for Old People, a nursing home run by The Guinness Partnership, in 1990, the Princess wore a gold bracelet which featured two blue stones at the its centre.[55] The piece has been worn by Diana's daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Sussex, at numerous occasions following her marriage to Prince Harry.[56]

Double Crescent Bracelet[edit]

Created by Verdura back in 1944, Diana was seen wearing the bracelet during the auction of her outfits in New York in 1997.[57] The piece is made out of "18k gold and platinum set with 137 round diamonds", and its "interlocking Cs derive from the cipher of Diana, Roman goddess of the hunt".[58] The Princess also wore a pair of earrings at the event, known as Diana Earclips and made out of "mabé pearl, diamond, platinum and 18k yellow gold".[59]

The Queen's Modern Baquettes and Brilliants Bracelet[edit]

The Queen commissioned the bracelet from Garrards in 1982. In 1983, she loaned it to the Princess for her state visit to Australia.[1]

The Swiss Federal Republic's Watch[edit]

The Swiss Federal Republic presented this specially designed platinum watch to the Queen in 1947, as a wedding gift. It was designed by Vacheron & Constantin, the world's oldest watch factory. The Queen gave the watch as a wedding gift to the Princess in 1981.[1]

Suites[edit]

Aquamarine Ring and Bracelet[edit]

During her life time, Diana possessed a set of aquamarine jewels, including an "emerald cut Aquamarine stunner", which she famously wore at the 1997 auction of her clothes at Christie's, and "an aquamarine bracelet ... connected by five strands of pearls". The ring was used by the Princess as a replacement for her engagement ring after her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996. It was given to her by Lucia Flecha de Lima. The stone that is placed on the ring had been taken out of a mine in Brazil where the Queen's aquamarine pieces are usually taken from.[60] After her death, the ring was passed to her younger son Prince Harry, who gave it to his wife the Duchess of Sussex to wear it at the couple's wedding reception in 2018.[61]

Sultan of Oman Diamond and Sapphire Necklace, Earrings and Bracelet[edit]

During her 1986 visit to Oman, Diana was given a set of crescent-shaped geometric diamond and sapphire necklace, earrings, and bracelet by the Sultan of Oman.[62] The Princess famously wore the set together with the Spencer Tiara during a state visit to Germany in 1987.[63]

Butterfly Earrings and Necklace[edit]

During an official visit to Canada in 1986, the Princess wore a set of gold necklace and earrings. The earrings had the shape of a butterfly and the necklace also had a piece of golden butterfly in its center. The set was passed to the Princess's younger son who gave it to his wife. Diana's daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Sussex, wore the earrings during her visit to Australia and on the day her pregnancy was announced.[64][55]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]