This brooch features a central cabochon emerald surrounded by two circles of diamonds, the outer larger than the inner. A large drop emerald – a detachable pendant – is suspended by a chain of diamonds with a leaf detail. The Queen often wears this piece on green or teal outfits, but again, I think it would really stand out against a white dress with green detail.
The history of the piece is a little long: Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge (Queen Mary’s grandparents) were in Frankfurt in 1818 and there, they entered a charitable lottery. The couple won and received a box of around 30 cabochon emeralds as their prize. Augusta had some stones made into a pair of earrings and a necklace.
These emeralds were then inherited by the Duchess of Teck, Mary’s mother, and were passed to Francis, Mary’s brother, upon the Duchess’ death. When Francis suddenly died in 1910, he bequeathed the stones to his married mistress (!), Ellen Constance, Countess of Kilmorey. An indomitable force, Mary asked for them back: the Countess returned them – in exchange for for £10,000 (approx. £800,000) according to From Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault.
Now Queen, Mary wanted a brooch – they were very fashionable after all – and so had Garrard surround one stone with two rows of diamonds, and asked for another of the Cambridge emeralds to be made into a pendant for the first piece. Mary often used the Cambridge Emerald Brooch as an extension of her Delhi Durbar stomacher, and occasionally as intended – a brooch. She also created the Delhi Durbar tiara from the stones – but that’s another article!
The Queen inherited this from her grandmother upon Mary’s death in 1953, and usually wears the piece as a whole, though we have seen just the top half of the brooch from time to time. She has used it regularly for decades.