Royal jewelry experts usually know what jewelry members of the royal family wear when they go out for a royal engagement. But for one of Her Majesty’s last royal gala appearances, the late Queen wore a necklace that many did not recognize.
The Queen’s best and largest emeralds came from the Greville Bequest, a collection of Edwardian jewelery dating back to the early 1900s.
The collection is named after Maggie Greville, née Anderson, who married Conservative MP Ronnie Greville in 1981.
Maggie bequeathed several emerald and diamond jewels from her jewelery box to the Queen Mother in 1942, including a classic diamond and emerald necklace and a pair of emerald earrings.
There was also the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara, which Princess Eugenie wore for her royal wedding in October 2018.
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These pieces are rare and valuable because they contain emeralds, which are not often worn by members of the royal family – they usually opt for diamonds and sapphires.
The emerald and diamond necklace has been worn by the Queen Mother on several occasions, but there could have been two necklaces made with these gemstones – one small and one larger.
In his Boucheron book, The Secret Archives, jewelry historian Vincent Meylan mentioned the two separate emerald necklaces, explaining that Maggie took both and combined them into one large necklace.
However, the plot thickens: after Maggie’s death in 1942, an article published in the Evening Standard describes her jewels and mentions that among them are “two beautiful necklaces of emeralds and diamonds – one of ‘square emeralds and the other with cabochon emerald drops’.
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The first of these was believed to be the one often worn by the Queen Mother, while the second, more mysterious, was later seen on none other than Queen Elizabeth herself.
In December 2019, the Queen appeared for her final gala jewelry appearance, according to Court Jeweller’s Lauren Kiehna, for a diplomatic reception.
The monarch donned a long-sleeved white dress, but it was her necklace that stood out: it was an eye-catching diamond and emerald piece that had never been seen in public.
The piece of jewelry appeared to date from the 19th century and featured both square and cabochon drops: like those described on the two necklaces by the Evening Standard.
So this necklace appeared to be the necklace Maggie had created by combining two separate small and large emerald necklaces.
It was the second mystery necklace in the Greville Bequest and, unlike the first, never worn by the Queen Mother.
At the time, Vincent Meylan commented on the necklace on social media, saying: “It’s not very often that I find myself with an unanswered question about Queen Elizabeth’s jewellery.
“But I must admit my utter ignorance as to the origin of that magnificent emerald necklace which the Queen wore last night at the Diplomacy Dinner [corps] at Buckingham Palace.
“If I was a gambler, and I am, I’d risk it being Greville’s famous second emerald necklace.”