One of the first jewels made for a royal bride came as a commission from Prince Albert back in 1840. In the months before he married Queen Victoria, Garrard’s craftsmen were sworn to secrecy as they toiled over the prince’s design for a spectacular sapphire and white diamond cluster brooch. The prince presented the finished masterpiece to the queen on the eve of her wedding, which she wore as her ‘something blue’ on their special day and every year thereafter on their anniversary.
Its mesmerising and unique design has spanned generations. To this day, the current Queen Elizabeth II frequently wears that very same brooch, whilst the design is seen again in the sapphire and white diamond cluster engagement ring on the hand of the Duchess of Cambridge.
Returning to tales of historic romances, in 1863 it was time for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria’s son, Edward, Prince of Wales, to marry. He too turned to Garrard with an even more lavish request - to create a pearl and diamond parure consisting of a necklace, earrings, brooch and tiara for his bride, Princess Alexandra. The prince himself was passionate about the intricacies of jewellery design and was actively engaged in its creation. In one of the earliest records of wedding photography, Princess Alexandra is shown on the arm of her young husband, dazzling in all the glorious jewels except for the tiara. Today its whereabouts are unknown, but HM Queen Elizabeth II continues to wear the accompanying brooch and earrings.
Among the jewels most frequently worn by the current queen is another Garrard creation made for a royal wedding. Known as the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, its swirls of white diamonds rise to twinkling peaks, crested by 13 brilliant diamonds. The tiara was bought with donations from women around the country and given to the future Queen Mary at her wedding in 1893, who described it as one of her ‘most valued’ gifts. Years later she passed the tiara to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, as a wedding gift in 1947.
However, it was not this tiara that held the young princess’s veil in place as she exchanged vows with Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in Westminster Abbey. This important role was fulfilled by the Fringe Tiara, lent by her mother as her ‘something borrowed’. Originally made by Garrard for Queen Mary in 1919, it features an elegant series of alternating tall and short bars of scintillating white diamonds. On the day of the wedding, the delicate structure snapped as the bride was getting ready. Determined to wear this tiara on her special day, the princess’s tiara was rushed away by a police escort to the Garrard workshop, where it was repaired in haste and returned just in time for the ceremony.
Despite the years that separate them, no matter how different they are in form and setting, these jewels have retained their style and impact. Their inspirational and iconic motifs live on to this day as fresh interpretations within new jewels designed in the Garrard studio, a respectful nod to the House’s illustrious and romantic past.