Jewellery of a certain size always attracts attention. When extraordinary gemstones are mined, they are usually closely monitored by potential buyers and fans alike. Today, we’re going to take a peek at some famous brooches that have attracted a lot of attention throughout history.
Let’s dive right in.
Wallis Simpson’s Diamond Brooch
Royalists will already know who Wallis Simpson is, but for those who don’t, here’s a breakdown. When Edward VIII ascended to the throne in 1936, he generated outrage among his parliament. Edward wanted to propose to American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. It’s crazy to think that this was a problem at the time, as today it would cause no issues, but at the time is was considered scandalous as Wallis had two living ex-husbands, and was considered unfit to be queen.
Instead of abandon his true love, Edward became the first British Monarch to abdicate, and he stepped away from the role of King to be with Wallis. To commemorate their love, he designed a diamond brooch for her in the form of a plume of feathers. It was considered to be one of Wallis’ favourite pieces of jewellery, and she has been photographed wearing it many times. After Wallis’ death, her jewellery was auctioned off, with her plume brooch being purchased by close friend, Elizabeth Taylor, for half a million dollars.
Elizabeth Taylor’s Emerald Brooch
It should come as no shock to you that Elizabeth Taylor’s name comes up multiple times in this blog. When it comes to famous jewels, there’s no greater collector than Liz Taylor. One of her most famous pieces was an emerald and diamond brooch that was gifted to her by two-time husband, Richard Burton. Having been married multiple times before her first marriage to Burton, Taylor had accumulated several engagement rings. Burton wanted to get her a gift that would stand out, knowing that she already owned enough engagement rings for one life.
Knowing Taylor’s love of emeralds, he opted for a Bulgari emerald and diamond brooch similar to popular Art Deco brooches at the start of the 20th century. Perhaps this is because the gemstones used were believed to be previously owned by the Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia, whose presence in Russia ended around the turn of the century. Burton knew Taylor well, and eventually purchased her the remaining pieces of the emerald and diamond suite designed by Bulgari – Taylor’s favourite luxury brand.
The Cullinan Diamond
This one is technically not just a brooch. The Cullinan diamond is the name given to the largest rough diamond ever mined. Mined in South Africa in 1905, it weighed in at 3,106.75 carats, which is truly astonishing considering a large-looking single-stone engagement ring would like have a diamond that’s roughly 2 -3 carats in weight. The diamonds cut from the rough diamond were named according to their size, with the largest being titled ‘The Great Star of Africa’. This largest stone is set at the head of the sceptre of the British Crown Jewels.
One of the nine large-sized diamonds cut from the Cullinan diamond was set into a brooch for Queen Mary in 1910. This diamond – along with the seven others which are part of the Crown Jewels – is still in the Royal Family today. When Queen Mary died, she left the diamond brooch to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Cullinan I and Cullinan II were made into one brooch for Queen Mary, creating a stunningly large and dazzling piece of jewellery. Queen Mary was known to love jewellery that had stature to it, and so it’s no surprise that this record-breaker was a part of her collection.
We ‘commoners’ may never own expensive and world-renowned jewellery such as these, but that can’t stop us from admiring them from a safe distance and imagining how good them might look on us. What’s a famous piece of jewellery that you love?