Trends

6 Fascinating Facts About the Crown Jewels

TrendsJan 17, 2018

6 Fascinating Facts About the Crown Jewels

In a rare televised interview, the Queen of England shared her thoughts on her coronation 65 years ago and the iconic jewels that haven’t been worn since.

20180117_coronation.jpg
In a rare televised interview, the Queen of England shared her thoughts on her coronation 65 years ago and the iconic jewels that haven’t been worn since.

London--Queen Elizabeth II has been the subject of extra fascination since the debut of “The Crown,” the Netflix series that recounts her life, but fans of the royal were able to witness what she’s really like when she made a rare televised appearance in a BBC documentary that aired Sunday.

“The Coronation with Her Majesty the Crown” recounted details of the sovereign’s official coronation 65 years ago, with the queen herself joining royal expert and interviewer Alastair Bruce to watch the event (it was televised at the time) and lend her own commentary.

Bruce and the queen spoke in depth about the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, which were brought from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace for personal inspection during the interview.

Here are six interesting facts we learned about the Crown Jewels from the documentary.

Elizabeth Wore Two Crowns During the Coronation

The Crown Jewels is comprised of over 140 items containing more than 23,000 precious stones, the most famous of which are the Cullinan I and Cullinan II diamonds, cut from the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, the largest gem-quality rough ever found. Most of these items, known as the regalia, are used in the coronation.

The most important of these is St Edward’s Crown, made in 1661 for the coronation of Charles II. The solid gold crown weighs five pounds and boasts 440 gemstones.

The queen hasn’t worn St Edward’s Crown since her coronation. A second crown—the Imperial State Crown, which is lighter—was placed on her head at the end of the coronation ritual. She still wears it for most state openings of Parliament.

The Queen Isn’t Afraid to Handle These Rare and Important Jewels

While many would be intimidated to handle jewels of such great value and historical import, not so much Her Majesty.

Only she, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the crown jeweler are allowed to touch St Edward’s Crown.

During the queen’s interview, Bruce asked if the crown could be placed closer to the queen as they discussed it. She grabbed it roughly with both hands, telling Bruce simply: “This is what I do when I wear it.”

Or talk about them plainly.

She was similarly less than pretentious in her observations of it.

“Is it still as heavy? Yes it is,” she remarked. “Weighs a ton. It’s very solid isn’t it?”

Other gems of wisdom from the queen

included: “Fortunately, my father and I have about the same sort of shaped head … once you put (the crown) on it stays.” And, “You can’t look down to read the speech; you have to take the speech up because if you did, your neck would break, it would fall off.”

When Bruce ventured to Queen Elizabeth, “I imagine your principal memory is wearing it ma’am,” she responded, “And how heavy and unbalanced it was.”

Our favorite was the unsentimental: “There are some disadvantages to crowns but otherwise they’re quite important things.”

The Queen Wishes She Had Seen the Cullinan Get “Smashed”

Discovered in 1905, the Cullinan Diamond made its way to Britain from South Africa, shockingly, “in the post.”

Joseph Asscher was charged with cutting the rough in Antwerp in 1908.

“I always wish I’d been there when they smashed it into pieces,” said Queen Elizabeth. “These are the chips that were left,” she added, motioning to an enormous cushion-cut and an enormous pear-cut diamond pinned to her dress.

The largest polished diamond from the original rough, the Cullinan I, is in the scepter, while Cullinan II is mounted in the Imperial State Crown.

She said that she heard Asscher fainted after he cut the stone, though she couldn’t be sure if that was just a story.

The Crown Jewels Were Hidden from the Nazis in Biscuit Tins

The Crown Jewels are so important to England that special care was taken to hide them from the Nazis during World War II.

A royal librarian recently unearthed evidence that showed that the jewels were stored in a secret room 60 feet below Windsor Castle, which could only be accessed by descending a very long ladder.

Some of the most important jewels were removed from their settings and stowed in biscuit tins, lest they need to be moved again.

The Queen Seems To Think That Pearls Are Alive

The queen looked delighted to examine four dangling pearls that make up one element of St Edward’s Crown.

Two of the pearls are believed to have been owned by Mary Queen of Scots, and purchased by Queen Elizabeth I after the former’s execution.

Upon examination of them, the Queen remarked that the pearls, “don’t look very happy now … Most pearls like to be sort of living creatures so they’ve just been out, hanging out here for years, so they’re all sad. The trouble is that pearls are sort of live things and they need warming.”
Ashley Davisis the senior editor, fashion at National Jeweler, covering all things related to design, style and trends.

The Latest

Myne London
CollectionsJul 12, 2024
Myne London to Support Malala Fund

The emerald supplier will donate a percentage of sales from its “Star Power” earrings to the nonprofit in support of girls’ education.

The Jewelry Symposium logo
Events & AwardsJul 12, 2024
The Jewelry Symposium Is Looking for Speakers

TJS is seeking jewelry manufacturing and technology experts to speak at its 2025 event.

Sculptural Freeform Earrings
CollectionsJul 12, 2024
Piece of the Week: Marrow Fine’s ‘Sculptural Freeform’ Earrings

The earrings were inspired by the landscape at Joshua Tree and Jean Arp’s abstract sculptures.

Untitled design.jpg
Brought to you by
The End of an Era? Lab-Grown Diamonds' Journey Towards Price Stability

As the demand for lab-grown diamond jewelry may still be increasing, the most notable change we are likely to see is price stabilization.

Madeline Fraser Gemist
EditorsJul 11, 2024
Q&A: Gemist CEO Madeline Fraser on Jewelry Visualization Technology

Fraser shares why she decided to shift from a direct-to-consumer retailer to a B2B technology company.

Weekly QuizJul 11, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these questions.
Take the Quiz
Jewelers of America learning workshop Providence logo
Events & AwardsJul 11, 2024
JA to Host Next Learning Workshop in Providence

The one-day workshop will be held July 17 at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Jewelers International Showcase Logo Statue
Events & AwardsJul 11, 2024
Registration Now Open for JIS Fall 2024

The jewelry trade show will take place in Miami Oct. 6-9.

1872 x 1052 Gemolite.jpg
Brought to you by
Meet Gemology’s Next Generation Microscope: GIA® Gemolite® NXT Professional Edition

GIA®’s most advanced microscope has new features to optimize greater precision and comfort.

Kyle Kuzma, D’Angelo Russell, Jalen Green, Jaime Jacquez Jr., Kevin Love, Josh Hart, and Seth Curry
MajorsJul 11, 2024
David Yurman Names 7 NBA Players as Brand Ambassadors

The partnership reinforces David Yurman’s position as a leader in men’s jewelry, said the company.

U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection Paperwork
CrimeJul 10, 2024
US Customs Seizes $10M in Counterfeit Jewelry

Officers intercepted three packages within 24 hours containing fake goods claiming to be from various luxury brands.

Matturi Fine Jewelry totem jewel
Events & AwardsJul 10, 2024
IAC’s Gold and Diamond Conference to Focus on ‘Expanding Horizons’

The 14th annual conference will host panels on cross-sector collaboration, industry sanctions, and more.

Immediate Connections
Events & AwardsJul 10, 2024
Women’s Art Center of the Hamptons to Host Jewelry Exhibition

“Immediate Connections” will be on view from July 18-21.

Navneet Gems salt & pepper sapphires
SourcingJul 10, 2024
Navneet Gems Launches Salt-and-Pepper Sapphires

Sourced from Tanzania, the stones feature a unique hematite inclusion.

Peter Smith
ColumnistsJul 09, 2024
11 and ½ Thoughts on Leadership

From prioritizing “big rocks” to practicing transparency, Peter Smith explores what it takes to be an effective leader.

John Hardy bracelet and Wölffer Estate Summer in a Bottle rosé
CollectionsJul 09, 2024
John Hardy Toasts to Wölffer Estate With New Collection

The capsule collection is inspired by the Hamptons vineyard’s Summer in a Bottle rosé.

Fuli Gemstones peridot The Curious Gem
SourcingJul 09, 2024
The Curious Gem Now Carrying Fuli Peridot

The U.K.-based online supplier will offer calibrated stones under 1 carat.

Graff’s fancy yellow and white diamond necklace
CollectionsJul 09, 2024
See Graff’s New High Jewelry Creations

The jewels are inspired by modern architecture with a focus on the play of light and movement.

Ravi Bhansali and Isidore Mörsel
SourcingJul 08, 2024
AWDC Re-Elects Isidore Mörsel as Board President

Ravi Bhansali has been elected vice president.

Tiffany Stevens
GradingJul 08, 2024
IGI Names Tiffany Stevens to Lead North American Business

Stevens, the former CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, will succeed Avi Levy.

Michael Richards and Clayton Bromberg of Underwood’s
IndependentsJul 08, 2024
Underwood’s Appoints Michael Richards as President

Clayton Bromberg will remain as chairman of the Florida jeweler.

Yale Peabody Museum quartz sandstone concretion
SourcingJul 08, 2024
Yale Peabody Museum to Reopen Hall of Minerals

The Connecticut museum will unveil the newly renovated galleries on July 9.

Neiman Marcus Fort Worth Texas
MajorsJul 05, 2024
Saks Fifth Avenue Owner to Acquire Neiman Marcus

The deal is valued at $2.65 billion.

Cece Jewellery Insignia Medallion
CollectionsJul 05, 2024
Piece of the Week: Cece Jewellery’s ‘Insignia’ Medallion

Spin the medallion’s diamond arrow to find out your fate.

SourcingJul 05, 2024
Lucara Names New VP of Mineral Resources

Lauren Freeman, a Ph.D. with more than 25 years of experience in mining, has joined the company.

2004 case.png
Supplier BulletinJul 03, 2024
CASE Awards: Celebrating Creativity & Craftsmanship for 30 Years

Sponsored by Jewelers of America

Sissy’s Log Cabin William Jones IV
IndependentsJul 03, 2024
William Jones IV Promoted to President of Sissy’s Log Cabin

The third-generation leader succeeds Lamar McCubbin, who resigned last month after 11 years in the role.

John Youkilis and Craig MacBean
MajorsJul 03, 2024
Ostbye & Anderson Acquires Fellow Midwest Manufacturer

The Minneapolis-based company bought Victor Corporation, which has been making jewelry in Cincinnati since 1946.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy