Throughout its history, the House of Garrard has had the honour of working closely with the British royal family, as well as royalty around the world. First commissioned in 1735 by Frederick, Prince of Wales, and then appointed Crown Jeweller by Queen Victoria in 1843, Garrard has since served every subsequent British monarch. Over these years it has created many famous jewels, including tiaras still worn at state occasions and the sapphire cluster engagement ring worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. This heritage of iconic designs continues to inform the creation of Garrard jewels today.
Garrard holds the Royal Warrant as Jewellers, Goldsmiths and Silversmiths, appointed by HRH The Prince of Wales.
A brief, handwritten sentence in the House ledger marks the first royal order for Garrard. It came from Frederick, Prince of Wales, and was the beginning of a relationship that reached through every successive generation.
After more than a century of royal commissions, the House was appointed the first official Crown Jeweller by Queen Victoria.
Among the hundred thousand wonders on show at The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park were almost one hundred from the House of Garrard. This huge event, the brainchild of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, celebrated all things new in manufacturing and design. Garrard’s most playful, technically complex creations were on display, including a nearly metre-tall Emperor’s Vase for Royal Ascot and suites of royal jewels, featuring opals, rubies and other gems.
Garrard received instruction from Prince Albert to re-cut the Koh-i-Noor.. Known as ‘The Mountain of Light’ in Persia, the stone achieved celebrity status upon entering the Crown Collection in 1849. From the moment the Duke of Wellington started the machine to cut the first facet, the process attracted great public attention and many visits from dignitaries. After a gruelling three weeks, the diamond emerged as a dazzling brilliant weighing 105.6 carats. Today, it is set at the centre of The Queen Mother’s Crown and can be viewed at the Tower of London.
Following the death of her husband in 1861, Queen Victoria retreated for a time from public life. On her return, she commissioned a small diamond crown to replace the far heavier Imperial State Crown, which sat atop her widow’s veil. As royal portraits became more available through advances in photography, the crown became synonymous with Queen Victoria, although it was subsequently worn both by Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary.
The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara was given as a wedding present to Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, later Queen Mary. It was, in her words, one of her “most valued gifts.” The tiara had been purchased with money raised by a committee chaired by Lady Eva Greville, daughter of the 4th Earl of Warwick. A much admired design, it has since been worn to great effect by HM The Queen.
In preparation for the coronation of Edward VII, Garrard was asked to reset St Edward’s Crown. This crown is used only once during a monarch’s reign: at their coronation. Named after Edward the Confessor and dating back to 1661, it is made of solid gold and contains 444 precious stones, weighing a considerable 2.23kg. Despite his stated intentions, Edward VII eventually wore the lighter Imperial State Crown at Westminster Abbey, to aid his recovery from appendicitis.
For his birthday in 1907, King Edward was given the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found: the Cullinan Diamond. After it was cut into nine smaller stones, the Crown commissioned Garrard to set the largest in the Sovereign’s Sceptre. Cullinan I, ‘The Great Star of Africa’, weighs over 530 carats. Ingeniously, the stone can be removed and worn as a brooch with the Cullinan II, which is set in the Imperial State Crown.
Just months after the coronation of George V, Garrard was commissioned to create a new crown for the monarch to attend the Delhi Durbar. This huge gathering of great pomp and majesty would see the King and Queen proclaimed Emperor and Empress of India. The Imperial Crown of India has eight arches containing 6,170 cut diamonds and is covered with sapphires, emeralds and rubies.
For the Queen, Garrard designed a diamond and emerald necklace featuring the seventh of nine numbered stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond. Its accompanying tiara was also originally mounted with emeralds, and is a swirl of lyres, scrolls and festoons dotted with diamonds.
With the coronation of George VI, a new crown was needed for his consort Queen Elizabeth. Garrard worked on a number of ideas, which were made into painted models so that the Queen could try them on. The chosen design was cast in a platinum frame and set with 2,800 diamonds. At the front of the crown, a cross holds the Koh-i-noor diamond in a detachable mount.
For her wedding, Princess Elizabeth was lent a fringe tiara by her mother, to be worn as her ‘something borrowed’. The jewel had been made by Garrard in 1919 for Queen Mary and features 47 bars of diamonds, separated by smaller bars. On the day, the delicate structure snapped as the bride was getting ready. A police escort rushed the tiara away to the Garrard workshop, where it was promptly repaired and returned just in time for the ceremony.
After her marriage, Diana, Princess of Wales was lent many jewels from the royal collection to wear at official engagements. A particular favourite was Queen Mary’s Lovers Knot Tiara. This iconic jewel features nineteen heart-shaped knots, from which hang baroque pearls of different shapes and sizes. It has been worn more recently by the Duchess of Cambridge.
To mark their engagement, HRH Prince William gave Catherine Middleton a family heirloom: the sapphire and diamond cluster ring of his mother, Princess Diana. The cluster setting is a signature Garrard design, and here features a Ceylon sapphire of singular beauty surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds. The Stone and setting is a design that can be traced back to another royal jewel of the past a sapphire and diamond cluster brooch given to Queen Victoria by her husband Prince Albert on their wedding day in 1840.
At the state banquet in honour of China’s president Xi Jinping, the Duchess of Cambridge wore the Lotus Flower tiara, originally made in 1923 for Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Fan motifs are enhanced by a series of diamond arches, and punctuated by three pearls.
With its appointment as Crown Jeweller in 1843, the House of Garrard took on the responsibility for cleaning, restoring and repairing the Crown jewels and plate. Each coronation required the adjustment of an existing crown to fit the new monarch, and sometimes to create a new crown. This meant working with some of the most famous gemstones in the world, such as the Koh-i-noor, one of the world’s largest cut diamonds, as well as the most historic including the Black Prince’s Ruby, which entered the royal collection in 1367.
Five of the eight crowns held at the Jewel House in the Tower of London were designed by the House of Garrard. Also on display is the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, which has been used at every coronation since 1661. This was redesigned by Garrard in 1910 to include the Cullinan I, the largest clear cut white diamond in the world.