GEM & JEWELRY ARTICLE

Sapphire - Stone of Royalty

Sapphire has had a recent boost with the Royal Wedding of William and Kate and the attention given to her Blue Sapphire and Diamond engagement ring. For centuries, Sapphire has been the blue gemstone associated with royalty and romance.

Nicky Thomas

Gemstone & Jewelry
Style & Trends Editor

Sapphire has recently received a big boost with the revelation that Prince William proposed to Kate with his mother’s Blue Sapphire and Diamond engagement ring.

Sapphire is one of the most recognized gemstones in the world along with Diamond, Ruby and Emerald. It has been a source of fascination and inspiration for as long as there are records of its existence and it has decorated the robes and jewelry of royalty for centuries. Sapphire is a particular favorite for the British and other European Royal families. It is also for this reason that has led to the deep blue hue acquiring the signifier “royal blue ” to describe its particular color. The Royal Blue Gem Stone...

Did you know that the ancient kings and queens of Greece and Rome believed that Sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm and in the Middle Ages, Sapphires were often worn by royalty as amulets to ward off evil?


ROYAL BRITISH SAPPHIRES 

Imperial State Crown 

This spectacular crown is worn by Her Majesty the Queen at each state opening of parliament and features two incredible, legendary Sapphires.  The St. Edward's Sapphire, in the center of the Cross Pattee at the top of the crown and the Stuart Sapphire in the band.

Imperial State Crown - Sapphires.jpg

The St. Edward's Sapphire, is an octagonal rose cut Sapphire.  The stone is thought to have been in the coronation ring of Edward the Confessor, known later as St Edward, who ascended the throne of England in 1042. Queen Victoria added the stone to the Imperial State Crown, giving it a leading role in the center of the cross at the top of the crown, where it remains today in the similar crown worn by Queen Elizabeth II.

St. Edwards Sapphire.jpg

The Stuart Sapphire is a striking 104 carat oval cabochon, even though it has a fine top blue color, it does contain a few inclusions and is drilled at one end, probably so that it could be worn as a pendant, as was routine in earlier times. Believed to have originally belonged to Charles II and set into the Imperial State Crown of Queen Victoria, where it took pride of place at the front of the circlet (band), just below the Black Prince's Ruby. It was later move to the back in 1909 to make way for the 317-carat Cullinan II Diamond; it still occupies that position today. 


The Stuart Sapphire.jpg

A Selection of the Queens Favorite Brooches

The Prince Albert Brooch Featuring a large faceted oval Sapphire estimated to be around 20-30 carats and surrounded by twelve Diamonds. It was given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert the day before their wedding in 1840 and was inherited by Queen Elizabeth when she ascended to the throne in 1952. 

The Prince Albert Brooch.jpg

The Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia’s Brooch Consists of a large Sapphire cabochon, surrounded by two rows of Diamonds and a large pearl drop.  It was a wedding gift given to Princess Dagmar of Denmark from her brother and sister in law, the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1866 when she married Tsar Alexander. Queen Mary purchased the brooch from the Dowager Empress Marie’s estate in 1929 and it has since been inherited through the family.

Empress Marie Sapphire Brooch.jpg

The Queen Mary Russian Brooch Features a large square cut Diamond and square Sapphire cabochon set in a scroll frame of Diamond brilliants, it can been worn vertically or horizontally. The brooch was given to Princess May of Teck (later Queen Mary) in 1893 by Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia.

The Queen Mary Russian Brooch.jpg


The Sapphire Chrysanthemum Brooch Was designed in the shape of a chrysanthemum flower with the center being set with numerous Sapphires surrounded by Diamond set petals. It was one of the first gifts the Queen received when she was a Princess in 1946 at the launch of the oil tanker 'British Princess'.

The Sapphire Chrysanthemum Brooch.jpg


The Carrington Sapphire Feather Brooch This beautiful Diamond feather brooch was presented to Queen Elizabeth by Carrington’s, who designed and made the piece, as a wedding gift in 1974. It features a gorgeous square cut Sapphire set at the top of the feather. 

The Carrington Sapphire Feather Brooch.jpg

The Sapphire and Diamond 18th Birthday Bracelet 

This beautiful piece was gifted to Princess Elizabeth for her 18th birthday by her father, King George VI in 1944. It was designed by Cartier and features ten square Sapphires separated by Diamond links and interspersed with Diamond loops.
The Sapphire and Diamond 18th Birthday Bracelet.jpg
The Dubai Looped Sapphire Demi-Parure

Sheikh Rashid of Dubai presented Queen Elizabeth with a spectacular necklace, earrings and ring set whilst on her Middle East Tour in 1979.  An absolutely stunning set featuring Diamond set loops surrounding oval Sapphires. She later shortened the necklace and made another pair of earrings with two of the Sapphires and made a matching bracelet and ring from the original ring and earrings.

The Dubai Looped Sapphire Demi-Parure.jpg

The George VI Victorian Suite

Originally made in 1850 and gifted to Princess Elizabeth in 1947 by her father King George VI. The necklace comprised of oblong Sapphires and a pair of square Sapphire earrings. In 1952 she shortened the necklace and had the largest Sapphire removed in order to shorten it and the stone was then incorporated into a new pendant in 1959. In 1963 the suite was enhanced by the addition of a new Sapphire tiara and bracelet, which were made to match the original pieces.
The George VI Victorian Suite.jpg
 
Queen Victoria’s Sapphire Coronet
 
A petite, flexible coronet designed by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1840, the year of their marriage and was made by Joseph Kitching, a partner at Kitching and Abud, who were appointed “Jewellers to the Queen” in 1837. The design was based on the Saxon Rautenkranz (circlet of rue), which is set diagonally across the shield in Prince Albert’s coat of arms and features both cushion and a kite shaped Sapphires set in yellow gold. It was inherited by King Edward VII, then by King George V and Queen Mary, who gifted it to their daughter, Princess Mary on her marriage to Viscount Lascelles in 1922. It was later sold to a private buyer. 

Queen Victoria’s Sapphire Coronet.jpg

Princess Diana’s Sapphire and Diamond Engagement Ring

Prince Charles proposed to Diana in February 1981 with a beautiful ring she herself chose featuring her favorite gemstone, Sapphire. A spectacular 12 carat oval Sapphire framed by 14 round Diamonds. 

 Princess Diana Sapphire Engagement Ring.jpg

The Saudi Sapphire Set

Was a wedding present to Diana from the Saudi royal family. It features a Diamond necklace, bracelet, and earrings as well as a watch and a ring, all decorated with wonderful deep blue Sapphires.

The Saudi Sapphire Set.jpg


The Sapphire Brooch Necklace
  

Early in her marriage, Diana was given a stunning Sapphire brooch by the Queen Mother, which she later had fashioned into a modern chocker featuring seven strands of pearls.
The Sapphire Brooch Necklace.jpg


OTHER ROYAL SAPPHIRES 

The Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure - Sweden

This incredible set was created specially as a wedding gift for Princess Augusta of Bavaria, when she married Eugene De Beauharnais (Napoleon’s stepson) in 1806. The Parure moved to Scandinavia when Augusta’s eldest daughter Josephine, married King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway in 1823. It is now Queen Silvia of Sweden’s signature set.

The Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure Sweden.jpg

The Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure is one of the most complete, featuring a tiara, necklace, earrings, brooch and two hairpins.  It is also reputed to be one of the world’s most exquisite pieces of craftsmanship. The tiara alone is composed of eleven individual sections at can be worn in a number of different ways and features eleven emerald cut Sapphires, that can be switched out for other gemstones if desired. All are set on an intricate frame of honeysuckle and leaves crafted from eleven oval Diamonds and hundreds of smaller ones.  Sensational!


The Dutch Sapphire Parure

Originally the tiara was purchased as a gift by King Willem III of the Netherlands in 1881 for his wife Queen Emma. This striking piece features thirty three Sapphires and six hundred and fifty five Diamonds all set in platinum. The central Sapphire alone is around 44 carats.  Originally they were set on a frame that was able to be dismantled into various forms including a hair comb and the central piece as a brooch.

The Dutch Sapphire Parure.jpg

Some of the stones are set ‘en tremblant’, meaning they are set in a particular way to allow movement within the piece. The Parure was then completed when a necklace, earrings and brooch were added. 


The Danish Connaught Brooch

This lovely brooch can be traced back to 1879 when it was first given as a wedding gift to Princess Louise Margaret of Prussian when she married The Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria's son.  The piece passed through the family over the generations until eventually moving to Denmark with Princess Ingrid when she married Crown Prince Frederik (IX) in 1935 and is one of Denmark’s most recognizable pieces in the Danish Crown Jewels. The brooch feature a stunning large Sapphire oval surrounded in numerous shaped Diamonds with pearl swags.  

The Danish Connaught Brooch.jpg


Queen Marie-Amélie’s Sapphire and Diamond Parure - France
  
This gorgeous piece is originally believed to be the property of Empress Joséphine, wife of Emperor Napoléon I.  It was purchased from Joséphine’s daughter, Hortense de Beauharnais in 1821 by King Louis-Phillippe of France for Queen Marie- Amélie.  It remained with the French royal family until it was sold to Louvre in 1985. 

Queen Marie-Amélie’s Sapphire and Diamond Parure.jpg

Queen Marie-Amélie’s Sapphire, Pearl, and Diamond Parure – France

Queen Marie-Amélie had a second Sapphire parure, which included pearls. Created for her by French royal jeweler, Bapst from some of her existing gems and jewels in her collection. Featuring a tiara, earrings, three brooches and bracelet. As with the other parure this too was sold in the 1990’s.

Queen Marie-Amélie’s Sapphire, Pearl, and Diamond Parure.jpg

The Barberini Sapphire Parure - Italy 

Belonging first to the Barberini family of Italian nobility, in the 17th century.  The Parure includes a stunning flora designed Sapphire and Diamond tiara, necklace, girandole earrings and brooch. The parure was reportedly last sold at auction in four separate pieces.  


The Barberini Sapphire Parure.jpg


The allure of Sapphires is felt across the European Royal families over the generations, it will be interesting to see who inherits which wonderful jewels in the next and if any new ones will be introduced.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nicky Thomas

Educated at the University of Exeter and a key part of our team here at The Rare Gemstone Company, Nicky has been fascinated by gemstones and jewelry since childhood. She explores all areas of the industry in her blog and revels in the proximity to gems and jewels that working at the source of some of the world’s most beautiful and rarest gemstones provides her.

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