Friday, March 29, 2013

British Royal Jewels: Queen Mary's Larger Pearl Button Earrings

Queen Elizabeth has inherited from Queen Mary a larger pair of pearl button earrings, which are very similar to Ladies of Devonshire Earrings, which also belonged to Queen Mary.
Larger Pearl Button Earrings
The main difference between the two earrings is the size and setting of the diamond: this pair has a slightly larger diamond (hence the name) in a claw setting, whereas the Devonshire Earrings feature a tiny round brilliant. 

There is some confusion between the two because the Royal Collection website refers to this pair the Ladies of Devonshire Earrings, while Leslie Field’s “The Queen’s Jewels” identifies the smaller pearl button earrings as the Devonshire pair.
Queen Mary wearing the Larger Pearl Button Earrings
On this particular occasion, I am almost certain Field is correct and the Royal Collection website is wrong. Queen Mary started wearing the smaller pair immediately after her wedding (which supports the theory they were a wedding present), whereas this larger pair made an appearance much later, in 1930s. 

In fact, one of Queen Mary’s earliest photographs (that I am aware of) wearing the Larger Pearl Button Earrings is from as late as 1939. She continued to wear them regularly, but not very often, until her death in 1953. Along with the bulk of Mary’s massive jewellery collection, the Larger Pearl Button Earrings were inherited by Queen Elizabeth. 
Queen Elizabeth wearing the Larger Pearl Button Earrings during her Diamond Jubilee Celebrations
Queen Elizabeth seems to prefer the smaller pair and has worn this larger pair on just a handful of occasions. She usually dons them when a daytime engagement is slightly more festive in nature and she feels a bit of an additional sparkle will not go amiss. For instance, the Larger Pearl Button Earrings made several appearances during her Diamond Jubilee year, including during a Service of Thanksgiving and Diamond Jubilee Concert.

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