16 February 2016

Royal Jewels of the Day: Diana's Collingwood Diamonds

Last week, I linked you to a Vogue feature on the new fashion exhibition at Kensington Palace. Several of you took special notice of a certain 1981 cover included in that feature, or so the sudden increase in questions about a certain diamond set would lead me to believe.
The fabulousness of those chandelier earrings and that antique necklace can't be ignored. But - unfortunately for those who asked about these gems in the hopes that they might see them one day on the Duchess of Cambridge - Diana did not own these jewels.
The cover comes from the official engagement portraits of Lady Diana Spencer and the Prince of Wales, which were taken by Lord Snowdon at Highgrove. The bride-to-be borrowed this suite of diamonds from Collingwood for the photos. (The excellent Diana's Jewels site points out that she also borrowed the necklace to attend a banquet at Claridge's during her engagement, for a state visit from the King of Saudi Arabia.) According to The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field:
"Collingwood, who have been the Spencer family jewellers since Lady Diana was a girl, had wanted to present her with the diamond set as their wedding gift, but Palace officials ruled that such a valuable present would be improper. The necklace and earrings were subsequently offered for sale by an Iranian jeweller in Düsseldorf, Genio Hakimi, who claimed they were Spencer heirlooms that had been sold to pay for the wedding. He had bought them from an unscrupulous dealer who offered the engagement photograph as proof that the jewels were Spencer property."
The current whereabouts of the troublesome diamond suite are unknown. However, Collingwood did manage to give the new Princess of Wales a sparkling wedding gift in the end: these simple diamond and pearl drop earrings, which Diana wore often, and which were a perfect match for that famous tiara on loan from the Queen.

Photos: Vogue/Snowdon/via Getty Images