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Important Jewellery – Cartier Halo Tiara
Worn by Kate Middleton at her wedding to Prince William last April, the Cartier Halo Tiara is the most talked about piece of jewellery this millennium. It was originally bought in 1936 by King George VI as a present for the Queen Mother.
At the time, George VI was still the Duke of York and his brother, Edward VIII, King. The Cartier Halo Tiara was bought 3 weeks before the abdication – at which point George VI was undoubtedly still hoping his brother would put duty before self, give up Wallis Simpson and remain
King. So this tiara was a private gift and George VI could not possibly have foreseen the historic importance it would attain. Certainly, it’s a lovely omen for the marriage of William and Kate. If Kate becomes anything like our beloved Queen Mum, we’ll all be thrilled – and she bears a strikiing resemblance to her when she was young, as you can see in the photograph below.
The tiara was made in London at Cartier’s workshops, now known as “The English Art Works.” It holds 888 diamonds – 739 brilliant-cut and 149 baguette-cut. It is a rolling cascade of diamond scrolls converging in a central diamond ornament.
The precise construction creates a halo of light around the face of the woman who wears it, hence its title “The Halo Tiara.”
The late Queen Mother wore it on many occasions, but also
loaned it to Princess Margaret before giving it to the Princess Elizabeth as an 18th birthday present.
Later, the Queen Mother gave the Persian Turquoise Tiara to Princess Margaret. Meanwhile, the Halo Tiara
was worn by Anne, the Princess Royal in the 1970s on several ceremonial occasions.
The Tiara is part of the Queen’s Personal Collection of Jewels, which is not part of the British Crown Jewels. The Crown Jewels belong to the people of Great Britain and must never be removed from the shores of this country.
The Queen’s Collection, by comparison, also belongs to the people of Great Britain but is comprised of pieces given to the sovereigns over the years. If the sovereign were male, it would be called The King’s Collection. It is impossible to estimate their worth, but it is legal to take any of the pieces out of the country, which is why the Queen wears jewels on State visits to other countries.
The Queen’s Collection includes 10 Tiaras, one of which is the King George IV State Diadem, which is very grand and was commissioned in 1820 for the King’s Coronation.
Made by theKing’s Jewellers at the time, Rundell, Bridge and Rundell, it holds 1,333 diamonds and 169 pearls. Roses, thistles and shamrocks representing England, Scotland and Wales are part of the design. It was worn by the King during the coronation ceremony but has since been worn by the female members of the family, and only for state occasions.
There is also a brooch nicknamed “Granny’s Chips,” which just shows the sense of humour born of family love that has lain at the heart
of the Royal Family for generations.
“Granny’s Chips” was made from fragments – or chips - of the Cullinan Diamond, mined by Sir Thomas Cullinan in 1905 in Africa.
Known as The Great Star of Africa, it is the biggest rough diamond ever found at 3,106.75 carats. Most of it is in the Royal Sceptre, but remaining fragments or “chips” were used to make other pieces of jewellery.
Jewels from the Queen’s Collection are always worn on state ceremonies abroad, because it is illegal to remove any of the Crown Jewels from
the shores of the United Kingdom. Each piece has its own unique and fascinating history.
The British Crown Jewels date mainly from the restoration of King Charles II, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for bringing this historic and priceless collection to crown and country.