Friday, March 29, 2013

British Royal Jewels: Queen Mary's Ladies of Devonshire Earrings

The Ladies of Devonshire Earrings are the ones Queen Elizabeth wears on virtually all daytime engagements.
Ladies of Devonshire Earrings
In 1893 a fund was opened by Lady Elizabeth Biddulph to raise money for a wedding present for Princess May of Teck. A pearl and diamond necklace, which could be converted into a tiara, was designed and made by the jewellers Hunt and Roskell. The presentation was made on behalf of “Ladies of England”. 

A subsidiary committee, chaired by Lady Clinton, had raised enough money from the “Ladies of Devonshire” to add this matching pair of pearl button earrings, each with a small diamond on top.
Mary of Teck wearing Ladies of Devonshire Earrings; on the right, she is wearing the earrings together with the matching Ladies of England Earrings
Queen Mary often wore these earrings together with the matching tiara (Ladies of England Tiara), or her Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara – another wedding present. These earrings were among the wedding presents from Queen Mary to Princess Elizabeth in 1947. 

There is some confusion between Ladies of Devonshire Earrings and the Larger Pearl Button Earrings. The Collection website refers to the other pair the Ladies of Devonshire Earrings, while Leslie Field’s “The Queen’s Jewels” identifies these earrings as the Devonshire pair. 
Queen Elizabeth wearing the Ladies of Devonshire Earrings
On this particular occasion, I am almost certain Field is correct and the Royal Collection website is wrong. Queen Mary started wearing this pair immediately after her wedding (which supports the theory they were a wedding present), as did Princess Elizabeth after her own wedding (since Mary gave them to her granddaughter). 

The Larger Pearl Button Earrings appeared in late 1930s so it is highly unlikely they were the wedding present from the Ladies of Devonshire. 
Queen Elizabeth wearing the Ladies of Devonshire Earrings
Queen Elizabeth loves these earrings and wears them on pretty much daily basis. It is easy to see why: they are lightweight, pretty and classic and go with every outfit.

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