The Stones That Made Garrard

February 20, 2020

Behind every great stone is a great story. From the sumptuous coloured gems in royal high jewellery suites to the glistening diamonds set in the Crown Jewels, each legendary gemstone within the nation’s treasures has undergone a journey of craftsmanship and creativity to bring out its cut, colour and clarity.

Garrard, as the world’s longest serving royal jeweller, has played a starring role in many of these stories, and the House’s legacy is ongoing. “Some of the most renowned gemstones in the world were brought to life in the Garrard workshop. The designs of these exceptional jewels live on in the pieces that we create to this day,” explains Sara Prentice, Garrard’s Creative Director.

The Sovereign motif is one of the House’s most iconic design signatures. Its inspiration draws on the setting of the most precious stone of them all: the Cullinan I, the largest clear-cut diamond in the world, and part of the largest gem-diamond ever found. In 1910 this extraordinary stone was positioned by Garrard, at the request of King George V, on top of the Sovereign’s Sceptre, using such expertise that it can be removed and worn as a brooch. A 530.2ct pendeloque (pear-shaped) diamond, Garrard’s Sceptre setting celebrates the Cullinan I’s form, framing it within enamel and gold. The Sovereign motif reflects that strong, elegant silhouette and, glittering with diamonds, it shimmers through the Muse and Fanfare collections and the House’s high jewellery pieces.

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That same year Garrard set the Cullinan II into the Imperial State Crown, while in 1911 Cullinans III and IV were set into Queen Mary’s Consort Crown (worn together in later years as a brooch). Also cut from that same celebrated stone, Cullinan V, an 18.8ct heart-shaped diamond to rival all others, was set by Garrard into a unique brooch for Queen Mary. The diamond is surrounded by radiating platinum lines enclosed by a border of smaller diamonds, emphasising its heart shape. The bold, radiating bars are mirrored in many of the House’s current creations, in collections such as Albemarle and Muse, and in many of Garrard’s tiaras.

The Windsor motif, an alluring repeating pattern of diamonds that graces collections such as Albemarle, Fanfare, TwentyFour and the House’s high jewellery designs, finds its origins by the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. The magnificent tiara was made by Garrard and given to Queen Mary by her ladies in waiting as a wedding present in 1893. This important piece of jewellery was in turn given by Queen Mary to Princess Elizabeth – now HM Queen Elizabeth II – on the occasion of her wedding, in 1947.

Today it has become one of the most recognisable royal tiaras in the world, and is often worn by the Queen, including in the portrait that appears on bank notes, where the iconic Windsor motif can be seen encircling the tiara’s base.

Garrard also has an unrivalled history of working with coloured gemstones. Sapphires have become synonymous with the House, with Garrard’s master craftsmen entrusted by royalty to create many of the finest sapphire jewels in history – some of which have also played a role in the greatest royal love stories in history. In 1840, as a token of his eternal love, Prince Albert commissioned a blue sapphire and white diamond brooch in a cluster setting that he gave to Queen Victoria on the eve of their wedding and which she then wore as her ‘something blue’.

The iconic design is seen again in the most famous engagement ring in the world, the sapphire and diamond cluster now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. These are the jewels which have inspired not only the House’s 1735 collection but the one-of-a-kind creations from Garrard’s Jewelled Vault, each designed around the most exceptional central stone.

One such treasure is Garrard’s spectacular 118.88ct Jubilee Sapphire brooch. This glorification of colour, featuring an exceptionally rare, royal blue sapphire, was created in honour of the 65th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, a date traditionally marked by the gift of a sapphire, and pays tribute to the House’s role in remodelling the Imperial State Crown for the occasion.

At the centre of each of these creations is the stone. “We often work directly with clients who handpick their preferred gemstone from the House’s exceptional selection, and create a bespoke design around it,” explains Sara. “As with everything made by the House of Garrard, it’s a case of wearing a story, while writing your own.”

Discover more about The Stones That Made Garrard.

“As with everything made by the House of Garrard, it’s a case of wearing a story, while writing your own.” Sara Prentice Creative Director, House of Garrard
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To view a piece, collection or to discuss a new commission you can visit Garrard in London or Shanghai.

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