Several years ago I was privileged to visit the Tower of London and view (through a glass darkly) the incredible Crown Jewels. Since I'm pretty sure my audience is enamored with all sorts of sparklies and baubles, and since these are like the mother of all sparklies and baubles, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about them. (Read all the way to the end for a special coupon/discount for you, our subscribers and followers.)
The term 'Crown Jewels' refers to the adornments worn by the 'sovereign' (King and/or Queen) of the United Kingdom during coronation ceremonies and other official occasions. The broadest meaning of the term includes the following objects: the crowns, sceptres (with either the cross or the dove), orbs, swords, rings, spurs, and a few other things I can't even spell or pronounce. (!)
Many of these incredible items have a religious connotation, and some are similar to items worn by bishops. Much of the 'crown-wearing' traditions we know about today were established in the medieval period. By the middle of the 15th century, the crown was formally worn on six religious feasts every year: Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Whitsun, All Saints and one or both of the feasts of St. Edward. At about this time, swords, symbols of kingship since ancient times, were introduced into the coronation ceremony. Three swords were used to represent the king's powers in the administration of justice; they were the sword of spiritual justice, the sword of temporal justice and the sword of mercy.
Of course, my favorites are not the swords, but the crowns. Some of the original crowns had golden frames, embedded with pearls, rubies, sapphires and diamonds. One of the most valuable ever was the Tudor State Crown, valued at £1,100 (£1,740,000 as of 2011); it was set with 28 diamonds, 19 sapphires, 37 rubies and 168 pearls!
The Imperial State Crown was made in 1937 for King George VI, an exact copy of the one made in 1838 for Queen Victoria, which had worn out and had an unsteady frame. This crown includes many jewels: 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and five rubies. Among the stones are several famous ones, including the Black Prince's Ruby (actually a spinel) and the Cullinan II diamond, also known as the Lesser Star of Africa. Two of the four pearls dangling from the crown were once worn by Queen Elizabeth I. It is worn after the conclusion of the Coronation ceremony when the monarch leaves Westminster Abbey and at the annual State Opening of Parliament.
The Crown of Queen Elizabeth was made by Garrard & Co in London, the long term manufacturer of British royal crowns, and modelled partially on the design of the Crown of Queen Mary (pictured here), wife of King George V. It is decorated entirely with diamonds, most notably a 105-carat (21 g) diamond in the middle of the front cross. This particular crown rested on top of Queen Elizabeth's coffin during her funeral in 2002. It is now on display along with the other British Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
We can't compete with these jewels, but the little pretties in our shop should suffice for most of us mere mortals. Click shop or the 'Buy Items on Etsy' button on our blog page at the web site. Or click the SHOP NOW button on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheBeadCollection?focus_composer=true
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Until Next Time & Happy Spring!