I always say that out of all my impossible dreams, I would love to spend a day just looking at the Royal Collection jewels. Queen Elizabeth II has a huge treasure trove of privately owned jewelry, of course, stuff that she inherited or was given personally, maybe even a few pieces that she bought for herself. Then there’s the Royal Collection, which belongs to “the crown,” and it’s probably the largest jewelry collection in the world. There are so many tiaras, necklaces, earrings, brooches, rings, bracelets and probably buckets full of loose jewels too. The collection is so enormous that there are pieces which have been “phased out” for decades during QEII’s reign, pieces which have not been seen in public for a century or longer. There are also pieces which no one has ever seen, which have been hidden away entirely and no one even knows exactly how the crown came to own them.
As it happens, the Queen debuted a mysterious emerald and diamond necklace at the Buckingham Palace diplomatic reception last week. Some people think that the necklace is some kind of reworking of the “Grenville Emerald Necklace” which has been seen before, but no one knows for sure. From People Magazine:
The Queen sparked a major jewelry mystery at Buckingham Palace’s annual Diplomatic Reception when she wore a previously unseen diamond and emerald necklace. Featuring a ring of 10 large emerald drops, the jewelry resembles the famous Greville Emerald Necklace that was previously a favorite of the late Queen Mother. The drop emeralds, however, point to the necklace either being a reworking of the original Greville design — or something completely different.
Described by a Buckingham Palace spokesperson simply as “an emerald and diamond drops necklace,” it is believed to be the first time the Queen has worn the priceless jewelry in public. The royal teamed the stunning necklace with the Greville emerald and diamond drop earrings, a white embroidered state gown by Angela Kelly and the emerald-rich Vladimir tiara — which Meghan Markle was reportedly denied from wearing at her 2018 wedding. On her wrists, she also donned two Cartier Art Deco bracelets set with diamonds and emeralds.
The history of the Greville jewels is just as mysterious as the Queen’s necklace. Bequeathed to the late Queen Mother in 1942 by aristocrat Dame Margaret Greville — who was a patron of Boucheron and Cartier — the collection is believed to have included necklaces previously owned by Marie Antoinette and the Empress Josephine of France. Yet it may have included far more.
“The jewelry was given in a black tin box,” reads an account provided by historic charity The National Trust, which now owns Dame Greville’s family home in Surrey, England. “To this day, we still don’t know everything that was contained in that black tin box.” The jewels remain popular with the royals. Princess Eugenie wore the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara for her 2018 wedding to Jack Brooksbank.
So… an aristocrat put all of her jewelry in a black tin box and gave it to the Queen Mother (who was then the Queen Consort) and no one even knows all of the jewelry given to the royal family in the tin box and there are still “new” pieces being introduced. Either that or the Queen just reworks these historical pieces at will? It’s so weird. It’s also strange that… no one really blinks an eye? You would think that at some point, people would be like “we should really make a list of all of the jewelry in the Royal Collection.” Maybe there is a list somewhere, and it’s just not public, because they’re afraid that if the list becomes public, everyone will be like “what the actual f–k, you could literally sell ONE of those necklaces and pay your own upkeep for a decade.”
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.