Among the most famous fine jewelry pieces in the world are the British Crown Jewels. There are several sceptres, crowns, rings and other pieces of fine jewelry in the collection. Some of the more well-known pieces are home to the most valuable diamonds and gemstones in the world.
One such diamond, “The Great Star of Africa”, was discovered in the Premier Mine of South Africa in 1905, and currently boasts a value of around $400 million US dollars. Despite its original, uncut weight of 3106.85 carats, it is estimated this stunning diamond actually fell off of an even larger diamond.
Now, “The Great Star of Africa” – or the Cullinan Diamond – is embedded in St. Edward’s Sceptre. It is removable, and can also be worn as a brooch when it is not attached to the sceptre itself. The sceptre is on display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London, alongside the other pieces in the royal collection. The Lesser Star of Africa”, which came from the same source material, has been a part of The Imperial State Crown itself since 1909.
The Imperial Crown is a stunning display of jewels all on its own. Given the highly visible and royal nature of the crown, only the finest materials are incorporated into the design. The current version includes over two thousand diamonds, over two hundred pearls, and a sizable collection of emeralds, rubies and sapphires.
By far the oldest crown in the collection is St. Edward’s crown, which was made from solid gold in 1661 for the coronation of Edward The Confessor. It is also one of the objects that Thomas Blood and his associates are famous for attempting to steal during the Crown Jewel Heist of 1671. The crown was flattened with a mallet in order to hide it better upon Blood’s escape. It was recovered and was most recently used in the coronation of Elizabeth II.
All of these pieces serve important ritual purposes even to this day, which is not the case in other areas of Europe. Some of the pieces in this collection date back to the 12th century, and are still used in modern coronation rituals. There was a time when fine jewelry pieces like diamond rings were only available to royalty. Now, they are more accessible than ever. One look at the Crown Jewels and the innumerable diamonds encrusted on the swords, sceptres and crowns, and it is no wonder why these gems and royalty were so inseparable.