Jewelry & Watches

10 Incredible Things We Learned Talking to the Royal Jeweler

The story behind Princess Diana's engagement ring is magical.
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When you think of the British Royal Family, you likely think of luxury, lovely taste in massive hats, and gorgeous jewelry. The royals have a veritable arsenal of priceless tiaras, rings, necklaces, and brooches—and much of it was made by royal jewelry designers House of Garrard—the oldest jeweler in the world (established in 1735), who have been involved in every single monarch's royal wedding since their inception.

MarieClaire.com spoke to House of Garrard in a quest to find out more about the royal family's jewelry, and came away with a slew of delightful facts.




PRINCESS DIANA AND DUCHESS KATE'S ENGAGEMENT RING HAS THE BEST STORY

"Queen Victoria absolutely loved sapphires, so Prince Albert always used to buy her sapphires. There's a very famous sapphire brooch which Queen Elizabeth wears regularly, passed down from Queen Victoria. That was the inspiration for the sapphire engagement ring that the Duchess of Cambridge wears. Prince Charles had always seen this beautiful sapphire brooch of his mother's, which House of Garrard had created. When he went to House of Garrard he saw that ring, and thought it was perfect."

VICTORIA'S BROOCH WAS ACTUALLY HER "SOMETHING BLUE"

"A couple of days before Prince Albert and Queen Victoria got married, he presented her with [the brooch] as a wedding present. Queen Victoria loved it so much that she actually ended up wearing it on her wedding day as the 'something blue' option. Garrard now places a sapphire on the inside of every engagement ring as a nod to the royals' love of sapphires, and also to be the 'something blue' on the bride’s wedding day."


FLIES WERE SUPER POPULAR IN ROYAL JEWELRY (YES, FLIES)

"In Queen Victoria's time, the fly was a really popular motif because it represented humility. It was a prominent symbol."

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QUEEN ELIZABETH'S TIARA BROKE ON HER WEDDING DAY

"The Fringe Tiara was given to Queen Elizabeth on her wedding day, and the hairdresser broke it. On that day, they had it police escorted to the House of Garrard workshops. We fixed the tiara that morning, had it sent back to Queen Elizabeth, and then she got married in it. You don't expect the royals to have those sorts of mix-ups, but they do!"


QUEEN MARY'S LADIES-IN-WAITING BOUGHT HER LOVELIEST TIARA

"Queen Mary's ladies-in-waiting bought the famous Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara. Traditionally, we always think it's men buying jewelry for women, but this was from her nearest and dearest girlfriends." [Edit note: The tiara is now worn by Queen Elizabeth.]


THE ROYALS OFTEN UPDATE THEIR JEWELRY

"[Often], something gets passed down the family line and it gets updated or remodeled overtime to make it more relevant for each owner."

PRINCESS ALEXANDRA OF DENMARK CAME TO THE U.K. WITH LITERALLY NO JEWELRY

"When Princess Alexandra came over and married Albert Edward in 1863 she came over with no jewelry of her own. That's when King Edward commissioned Garrard to make a suite for her wedding day. Once she became Queen, she continued to build on that collection."

SHE BECAME SO GEM-OBSESSED THAT SHE'D COLOR-CODE HER JEWELRY

"She had a walk-in wardrobe of beautiful gemstones and pieces that she commissioned from House of Garrard. She had them vigorously color-coded—rubies, emeralds sapphires, etc. The start of her jewelry collection was also the start of her relationship."


OH, AND FINALLY, GARRARDS WON'T BE SPILLING DETAILS ON PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE'S RUMORED ENGAGEMENT

"We would never comment one way or another. House of Garrard has been involved in every royal wedding since their inception, and the reason why is because privacy is absolute utmost."

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Mehera Bonner
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