Tuesday, February 12, 2013

British Royal Jewels: The Queen's County of Cornwal Ruby Bracelet

This bracelet is one of the many jewels the Queen has inherited from her grandmother, Queen Mary.

The County of Cornwall Ruby and Diamond Bracelet
It is made of diamond and ruby leaf bands with a diamond and ruby rose centre; the rose is detachable and can be worn separately as a brooch or a pendant. Although popularly known as the Country of Cornwall Bracelet, there is some confusion about its provenance.

This is how the confusion came about: when Mary of Teck married Prince George, Duke of York (future George V) she received an immense number of gifts, including jewellery ones. Naturally, some thought it would be symbolic to give Mary a present associated with her new title of the Duchess of York. 
Some of the jewellery presents given to Mary of Teck upon her marriage to the Duke of York (future George V)
One of such people was her husband, the Duke of York, who gave Mary a diamond and ruby rose brooch in the style of the Rose of York. Another present came from the Country of Cornwall in the form of a beautiful ruby and diamond bracelet, also in the style of the Rose of York. Because the centrepiece of the Country of Cornwall bracelet was detachable (Mary often wore it as a brooch on her collar), there is some uncertainty as to which pendant is actually mounted in the bracelet. 

The Royal Collection website refers to the bracelet as a present from ‘the Duke of York (the future George V) to Princess Mary of Teck (the future Queen Mary) for their wedding in 1893’. All other source , such as Leslie Field’s “The Queen’s Jewels”, appear to be certain this is indeed the County of Cornwall bracelet – all parts of it. In this particular case, I am inclined to believe the Royal Collection website is in error; the pendant matches the rest of the bracelet just too perfectly to have had a different origin. I am thus going to refer to the Bracelet by the name it is most commonly known – Country of Cornwall Bracelet. 
Princess Mary wearing the centrepiece of the bracelet on her collar
Princess Mary appeared to have been absolutely delighted by her new jewel. She wrote to Lady St Germans: 
When you came to bring me the present from the people of Cornwall I felt quite unable to express the deep gratitude I felt at receiving the very beautiful ruby and diamond bracelet. I shall ask you kindly to convey to them my warmest and utmost grateful thanks for the very lovely gift from Cornwall.
Yours very sincerely,
She wore the bracelet from time to time, both as whole piece and the centrepiece pendant as a brooch. When Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip, Queen Mary gave this bracelet as a wedding present to her granddaughter (along with several other jewels). 
Queen Elizabeth wearing the Country of Cornwall Bracelet
Queen Elizabeth occasionally wears the bracelet with her other ruby jewellery, although she sometimes pairs it with all-diamond jewellery as well. One of the first times she wore the bracelet was for the official portrait by Yousuf Karsh (first picture in the composite image above). The Queen has used it only as a bracelet and never (to the best of my knowledge) as a brooch or pendant. 

Picture and information credit: Royal Collection, Royal Magazin, Leslie Field’s “The Queen’s Jewels”.


  1. Being a huge ruby fan(red being my favorite color) this is something I would love to have and I would wear it daily, jewels are meant to be worn, not put in a vault or box just for a special occasion. Now for that ruby tiara that the QB wears.....

  2. I whole-heartedly agree; jewels are to be worn, not accumulate dust in the vaults. Luckily, the Queen still wears this bracelet occasional. Not so certain upon the upcoming reigns; neither Camilla nor Kate seem to be particularly fond of impressive pieces like this one.