26 April 2012

The Cullinans, Part 5: The Necklace Pendant

Today's episode of the Cullinan Diamond soap opera brings us to a piece where the Cullinan chip is not the headline stone.
The Delhi Durbar Necklace
In 1911, the newly crowned King George V and Queen Mary prepared to head to India to be proclaimed Emperor and Empress of India at the Delhi Durbar. Though it has been reported as having been a gift from the Ladies of India (and is thus sometimes known as the Ladies of India Necklace), it was in fact made by Garrard as part of the rest of the grand parure using the Cambridge emeralds formerly belonging to Mary's grandmother which was prepared for the occasion. The cost was met by George as a birthday present for his wife.
Queen Mary
The necklace includes 8 square and oval cabochon emeralds, each surrounded by diamonds and separated by a large diamond and two strings of smaller diamonds. It has two detachable pendants: a cabochon emerald and a Cullinan chip. This is Cullinan VII, a marquise-cut 8.8 carat diamond. (It is sometimes reported as Cullinan VI - see my comments on this confusion here.) Mary replaced Cullinan VII with a larger chip at least once, as seen on the far right in the first row of Mary pictures here.
Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth inherited the necklace when Mary died in 1953. Though it isn't the only emerald necklace in her collection, it seems to be her favorite for occasions when emeralds are needed, especially when the emerald version of the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara is worn. 
Queen Elizabeth
Personally, I've never been a big fan of this piece. I prefer nice, boring symmetry when it comes to my necklaces (that is, my hypothetical necklaces...you know).

Photos: The Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II/Leslie Field/Corbis/Getty Images