26 February 2012

Sunday Brooch: Prince Albert's Sapphire

Next up in our series on Queen Elizabeth's brooches is one of her most famous and most important historical pieces: Prince Albert's Sapphire Brooch, also known as Queen Victoria's Wedding Brooch, or just the Albert if you're not feeling wordy.
Prince Albert presented this large oblong sapphire set in gold and surrounded by 12 round diamonds to Queen Victoria on February 9, 1840 - the day before their wedding. She duly wore her present from "dearest Albert" on their wedding day and frequently afterwards, up until Albert's death.
Left to right: Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra (the brooch is partly buried), Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth
Queen Victoria's obsessive love for her husband is well documented, so it isn't really a surprise that she left his brooch to the Crown in her will alongside other important pieces of state jewelry. It's been worn by queens ever since.
Queen Elizabeth II
Now in Queen Elizabeth's possession, she wears it often. Memorable appearances for the brooch include dinner with President and Mrs. Kennedy at Buckingham Palace in 1961 (left, above) and the christening of Prince William in 1982 (center, above).
Queen Elizabeth II
This one is notable for the size of the stones involved and the wonderful color of the sapphire in addition to its important history, but it's a classic shape and it's not alone in the brooch world. Albert later presented Victoria with another sapphire and diamond brooch similar to this one but smaller; Victoria left it to her daughter Helena. Princess Anne has a look-alike brooch, which Suzy Menkes posits in her book The Royal Jewels also comes from Prince Albert: she says that he had similar brooches made for each of his daughters, and this one was bought back by the queen when it came up for sale. It is possible, however, that Anne's brooch has a different provenance altogether.
Princess Anne and her replica brooch

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