Jewellers pay tribute to Queen’s 70 years on throne
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
The UK’s platinum jubilee pageantry may be over but union flags are still flying across Mayfair — a reminder of the association between this part of London and many of the jewels in the royal collection.
Part of the state regalia, and much of the royal family’s personal collections, were made in workshops in the vicinity. And the jubilee gave local jewellers the chance to share their stories with customers by producing special collections inspired by the Queen’s 70-year reign.
Top names Garrard & Co, Pragnell, and Boodles were among those to issue jubilee collections. Garrard, which has held many historical royal warrants and currently has one from the Prince of Wales, is known for making the sapphire and diamonds engagement ring given to Diana, Princess of Wales. It is now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.
The jeweller marked the Queen’s milestone in several ways, including its Blaze collection. This is inspired by Diana’s ring and traces its history to a cluster design that Prince Albert commissioned from Garrard for Queen Victoria. It is worn regularly by the Queen.
“Garrard is so fortunate to have a rich heritage on which to draw inspiration,” says Sara Prentice, creative director. “Our collections always connect with that heritage, which is as fascinating to our clients as it is to us.”
The jeweller’s name is synonymous with some of the most outstanding jewels in British history. At the request of King George V, it mounted the 520-carat Cullinan I diamond, which is also known as the Great Star of Africa, in the royal sceptre.
The distinctive motif of the setting was revived in Garrard’s Aloria collection in 2020 and now appears in limited edition pendants and a one-of-a-kind pin. “What resonates with our clients is both Garrard’s rich heritage and our bright and bold design — each with its own creative inspiration,” says Prentice. “I think this is true for our clients both here in Britain and across the world,” she adds.
A rich history clearly appeals to international buyers but it is any connection to the Queen, in particular, that is most highly valued. That is apparent in Bond Street, where Boodles commemorated the monarch’s jubilee with its Peace of Mined collection.
The company has close ties with the Cullinan mine in South Africa, where the diamond in the sceptre was sourced (other stones cut from the original stone are in the imperial jewels).
Rebecca Hawkins, Boodles’ head of design, says this natural link to the crown jewels gave inspiration. She used motifs from the sunray fringe tiara that the Queen wore on her wedding day, as well as the kaleidoscopic geometry of the garter brooch, for a series of jewels using Cullinan diamonds.
“The provenance of the mine and the key part it played in the Queen’s coronation made for a simple and rather lovely connection,” says James Amos, marketing director at Boodles. “We haven’t designed a collection with a connection to royalty before, but the early signs are that our customers love the new collection. We have sold several pieces of jewellery from Peace of Mined in the weeks since its launch.”
Pragnell also is a company with a long history of connections with the royals. It owns Philip Antrobus, the company that was commissioned by Prince Philip to make the Queen’s engagement ring.
The Pragnell family have had their personal links, too. George Pragnell, grandfather of the company’s present managing director, Charlie Pragnell, was an apprentice at Biggs of Maidenhead, which was Queen Mary’s jeweller. She often visited with the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, her granddaughters.
Sketches from the Antrobus archive inspired Pragnell’s platinum jubilee collection of jewels, which celebrates each decade of the Queen’s reign. It includes a Cornish tin and sapphire ring to mark the 10th anniversary and a Royal Worcester china and snow-set diamond ring to commemorate the 20th. There is a rare jubilee-cut diamond ring, a tribute to the 60th anniversary.
“I think everyone loves the Queen,” says Charlie Pragnell. “We are a small British jeweller. It is part of our appeal to be truly British and I think the collection is a reminder to those that know our history.”
Royalty, as a muse for jewellery, has long resonated with customers.
Annoushka, the London jeweller founded by designer Annoushka Ducas, launched its crown rings five years ago. They are often bought as pairs to share within families.
Ducas has made seven jubilee crown rings to mark each decade of the Queen’s reign — in platinum. “Each design bears the platinum jubilee hallmark”, she says, “making them an investment as well as a treasurable piece for you to wear and enjoy.” The collection “has been very warmly received and we’ve already sold a number of pieces, which is fantastic”.
Annoushka and Loquet, another London jeweller, created accessibly priced charms of symbols associated with the Queen. Annoushka produced a corgi, while Loquet made a Tudor rose.
At the top end of the market, Lucia Silvestri, creative director at Bulgari, designed the Jubilee Emerald Garden tiara. She sums up a momentous occasion for all jewellers: “I was inspired by the Queen, a strong and powerful woman, an icon of our times.”