Monday, February 11, 2013

British Royal Jewels: The Queen's Burmese Ruby Tiara

Most of the Queen’s vast jewellery collection was either inherited, or presented as a gift on various occasions. The Burmese Ruby Tiara is an exception though for it is one of the few pieces that Queen Elizabeth has personally commissioned.

The Burmese Ruby Tiara
To create this piece the Queen used some of her wedding presents. Namely, diamonds from the dismantled Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara and the 96 rubies she had received from the people of Burma The number of rubies is actually rather significant: the Burmese believe that there are 96 diseases that can affect human body. They also credit rubies with the ability to protect their owner from sickness and ill-wishes, meaning the 96 rubies are meant to protect the Queen from all illnesses and evil of this world. 

The Garrard’s received the commission for a new tiara in 1973. Her Majesty didn't want any tiara either: she picked a design that would add to the symbolism of the rubies. The Queen wanted the ruby clusters to be arranged like the Rose of England – a combination of the White Rose of York and Red Rose of Lancaster (two of the branches of the House of Plantagenet that contested the English Throne during the aptly named War of Roses). 

Queen Elizabeth wearing the Burmese Ruby Tiara and her assorted ruby jewellery
In compliance with Queen Elizabeth’s wishes, the clusters of rubies (the red in the English Rose) are in the form of roses, surrounded by petals of white diamonds (the white in the English Rose). The ruby roses are separated by rays of diamonds on either side and are connected to each other by a single line of rubies in between the lines of diamonds. The rubies are set in yellow gold, while the diamonds – in white gold, creating an interesting contrast. 

Her Majesty wears this tiara quite often, pairing it with either Crown Ruby jewels, or some of her other ruby jewellery. A lot of people simply hate this tiara. I am not among them: actually, I rather like the heavy symbolism of rubies and the node to the English Rose. What I do hate is the fact the beautiful, delicate Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara was dismantled to create it,


  1. This is my second favorite tiara, the first is the taira of Iran. I love the swirling feeling this gives, like the waves of an ocean and the red roses(roses and lilacs being my favorite), I really love this tiara and it looks great on QE. I'll take it with no regrets, just hand it over, lolololo

  2. I am with you on this one. I never understand what all the hate is about this piece......its modern yet traditional at the same time and also full of symbolism. For all those that don't like this piece I'd suggest checking it out in some videos to appreciate the piece in action and really falling in love with it!!!