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June’s Jewels: the best British Pearls

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June’s birthstone is the pearl. This pretty gem has been worn by royalty for years and is found in some of the most famous regal jewel collections in the world. Here, Royal Central takes a look at some of the most celebrated pearl pieces belonging to the British Royal Family.

Cartier Indian Tiara

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This massive diamond, sapphire and pearl tiara belongs to the Gloucester branch of the Royal Family. It was inherited by Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who lived out her final years at Kensington Palace. When she died, in 1956, she left the tiara to her godson, Prince Richard of Gloucester.

How Princess Marie Louise came to own this tiara is a mystery as it was never confirmed to have been a wedding present when she married Prince Aribert of Anhalt in 1891. She returned to the United Kingdom after her marriage was annulled in 1900 and never remarried or had children, so had to bequeath her jewel collection to other family and friends.

The Indian Tiara was created by Cartier likely after Princess Marie Louise’s marriage had been annulled and is named as such because it imitates Indian design motifs.

Princess Marie Louise wore it to Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. The present Duchess of Gloucester doesn’t usually wear it either, opting for another tiara in her collection when she attends state functions.

Kent Pearl Festoon Tiara

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Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent owned this tiara, though how she came to own it is less known. It wasn’t a wedding present when she married George, Duke of Kent in November 1934 and its origins are a mystery. Although royal jewel experts say that it is held in a Cartier box for storage, it may not even be a Cartier creation.

Princess Marina wore this gorgeous pearl festoon tiara with regularity during her lifetime and even wore it to her niece’s coronation in 1953. When she passed away in 1968, she left it to her youngest son, Prince Michael of Kent.

The Pearl Festoon Tiara was initially an all-diamonds tiara, with pearls at the top of each festoon, but Princess Michael had the tiara altered. Princess Michael, who wears this at state occasions, added a row of pearls to the base of it to compliment the row of pearls at the top.

Kent Pearl Fringe Tiara

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This delicate bandeau tiara features diamond fringes of alternating heights with the tallest diamond peaks topped with pearls.

As for its origins, there are two schools of thought: that it was a wedding present for the Duchess of Kent from her parents or that it is a reworked tiara that was once owned by Queen Mary.

The Duchess of Kent currently owns this tiara and she has lent it to her daughter, Lady Helen Taylor, and daughter-in-law, The Countess of St. Andrews, for their weddings, as well.

Princess Anne’s Pearl Bandeau

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Princess Anne has a small collection of tiaras but this one has only been seen publicly once; at the Indian State Banquet at Windsor Castle in 2009. It is, as the name suggests, a simple pearl bandeau tiara.

Princess Anne can be seen wearing the tiara in the upper right corner of the photo.

Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace

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Princess Alexandra of Denmark received a parure of impressive jewels upon her wedding in 1863, which included this stunning pearl necklace. Eight pearls are surrounded by festoon diamonds and the necklace also includes detachable drop pearl and diamonds pendants for the wearer to customise it.

Queen Alexandra passed the jewels onto Queen Mary and Queen Mary passed the necklace onto The Queen Mother. Upon her death in 2002, it passed to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, who had already inherited the parure’s earrings and brooch. However, it was hidden in the vaults until 2018 when The Duchess of Cambridge wore it at the Dutch State Banquet.

Read about the Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite diamond and pearl tiara, Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara in the April Sparkle feature on Britain’s best diamond tiaras.

About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.