The visit to Buckingham Palace on 20 August was very popular indeed and 85 Friends enjoyed a tour of the 15 State Rooms, the Diamonds’ Exhibition in celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee, and the garden with its lake.
The diamond exhibits are breathtakingly beautiful and I would like to highlight just four of the exhibits. One is Queen Victoria’s Small Diamond Crown which is only 10cm in diameter. It was commissioned after the death of Prince Albert, when she was in mourning and could not wear her coloured jewels. She was regularly depicted wearing it in paintings, sculptures, on coins and in photographs.
Another is Queen Alexandra’s Coronation Fan made in 1902. The tortoise shell guards of the ostrich feather fan are set with brilliant and rose-cut diamonds and the back guard is set with a crowned ‘A’ in diamonds. The fan passed on to Queen Mary who then gave the diamond encrusted fan to Queen Elizabeth, two days before the coronation of King George VI in May 1937.
Another item I would like to highlight is the Jaipur Sword and Scabbard, set with 719 diamonds and presented to King Edward VII on his coronation by the Maharajah of Jaipur. The sword hilt and scabbard are of gold, enamelled in blue, green and red and set with diamonds that range from white to yellow. The total weight of the stones is in the region of 2,000 carats.
The exhibition is full of crowns, tiaras, earrings, broaches, snuff boxes, a diamond and pearl diadem and the Coronation Necklace made for Queen Victoria in 1858. The most magnificent, however, is the Cullinan Diamond, which is the largest diamond ever found, discovered in South Africa in 1905. It weighed 3,106 metric carats in its rough state. The Cullinan was also noted for its extraordinary blue-while colour and exceptional purity.
The diamond was presented to King Edward as a token of loyalty by the PM of the Transvaal General Louis Botha. It was eventually cut in Amsterdam into 9 principal numbered stones, 96 small brilliants and nine carats of unpolished fragments. Several of the jewels made from the Cullinan Diamond are in the exhibition. The State Rooms and Exhibition are certainly worth a visit.
Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration is part of a visit to the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in 2012. Open until 7 October 2012.