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The Queen's Diamonds

The first authorised account of the history of some of the finest diamond jewellery in the world


The Diamond Diadem


Diamonds, pearls, silver, gold | 7.5 cm (whole object) | RCIN 31702

A silver and gold-lined diadem with an openwork frame set transparent with diamonds; narrow band edged with pearls, surmounted by four crosses-pattée, the front cross set with a pale yellow brilliant, and four sprays representing the national emblems of England, Ireland and Scotland; roses, shamrocks and thistles. Set with 1,333 diamonds, including a four-carat pale yellow brilliant in the centre of the front cross

The order for the diadem was placed with Rundells in 1820 and work was complete by May of that year. The design, probably by Rundells' chief designer Philip Liebart, reflects something of the discarded plan for George IV's Imperial State Crown, which was drawn up by Liebart in the same period and was to have included the national emblems in place of the traditional fleurs-de-lis.

Together with a diamond-studded loop (which was broken up to help make Queen Victoria's Garter armlet) the bill for the diadem amounted to the large sum of £8,216. This included an £800 hire charge for the diamonds - stones were regularly hired for use at coronations up to 1837 - computed on a percentage of the value of the stones. When the coronation had to be postponed for a year on account of Queen Caroline's trial, a further hire charge was levied. Normally the stones would have been returned to Rundells after the coronation, but in this case there is no sign that the delicately worked diamond sprays and crosses, a masterpiece of the new transparent style of setting, have been disturbed. Equally, there is no evidence that the King purchased the stones outright, so it could be that the bill was met by a discreet barter of old stones from George IV's extensive collection.

Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002

    The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.