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Royal News

The poignant story of a sparkling royal ruby gem that’s rarely seen

It’s one of the most striking pieces of ruby jewellery in the Royal Family’s collection and it also carries a huge emotional significance for the Windsors. July’s birthstone dominates this sparkling creation which held a very special place in the heart of Queen Elizabeth II.

The necklace was a present to Her Late Majesty on one of the most important days of her life. Her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, gave her the diamond and ruby creation to mark her marriage to Prince Philip, in November 1947.

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However, this royal gem has an even more interesting past. For the necklace was created from jewels given to Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother, by a society hostess who was convinced that the Royal Family didn’t have enough gems of its own. Mrs Greville left her extensive jewellery to Queen Elizabeth to bulk out the royal collection. And George VI and his queen chose one of the Greville pieces to turn into a romantic gem for their elder daughter’s marriage.

The necklace was originally made by Boucheron in 1907, during the reign of Elizabeth II’s great grandfather, King Edward VII. It is a very pretty design, made of gold and silver shaped into diamond filled flowers which are accented by large rubies dotted throughout the piece.

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Queen Elizabeth II wore it occasionally but perhaps its most famous recent outing was in 2017 when the now Princess of Wales used it during the State Dinner for the King and Queen of Spain at Buckingham Palace.

The few times this necklace has been worn, it’s usually paired with a diamond or pearl tiara rather than other rubies.

It remains one of the most striking pieces of jewellery owned by the Royal Family but it’s a rare treat to see it sparkling in action.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.