15 April 2012

The Queen's Top 10 Diamonds: #8. The Australian Wattle Brooch

Fresh off the success of 1953’s coronation, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh embarked on an ambitious world tour to introduce the Commonwealth to its new queen. When she made it to Australia in 1954, she became the first reigning sovereign ever to visit. Australia welcomed its new queen with open arms…open arms and jewels.
The Australian Wattle Brooch
The Australian Wattle Brooch takes a floral approach to flying the Australian flag. Yellow diamonds depict sprays of wattle, the national flower. The wattle gives the brooch its name, but there's more flowery goodness going on: diamonds with a slightly blue color signify mimosa leaves, forming a background for diamond tea tree blossoms (each with a single large white diamond in the center).
Wearing the brooch during the 1954 tour, at the Flemington races
The wattle brooch was a state gift from the people and government of Australia. It was designed and crafted by Paul Schneller, a jeweler born in Budapest, and commissioned by William Drummond & Co. The gift was presented to the queen during a banquet in Canberra, and she wasted no time wearing it during the same tour.
She’s worn it ever since, and not just when going about Australian business. Many of the brooches in the queen’s collection with special connections to a country or a group are brought out when the connection requires it, like we saw with the Maple Leaf Brooch. This one gets every day outings too.
Any jewel given from a country to its sovereign automatically holds a special significance. And for Her Majesty, brooch lover extraordinaire, a brooch gets an extra dose of importance. Among the Commonwealth brooches the queen has, this one made my list over all others for a few reasons: it’s enormous and loaded with diamonds, it was made specifically for her and is a special symbol of her personal relationship with Australia, and she actually seems to like it. Bonus points all around.
Wearing the brooch in Ireland

Photos: Queen Elizabeth II/The Royal Collection/Daylife