Following on from the last blog post about The St Edward 's Crown, let's go back to 1911 and take a look at three possible clues which could explain why King George V chose aquamarine for his coronation diadem.
Aquamarine is a type of beryl mineral that comes in a variety of attractive colours. The name of it comes from the Latin phrase meaning "water from the sea," and it is typically a light blue or blue-green. This gemstone was especially popular among people who worked at sea, such as sailors, fishermen, and members of the Navy.
The first clue is that George V had served in the Navy during his youth, well before he ascended to the throne.
Aquamarine was found in Siberia, Russia, in 1723. It has been associated with a variety of powers and beliefs throughout history. Moreover, it is believed to be able to calm the sea, alleviate toothaches, and bring happiness to marriages.
The second clue is a distinct connection between King George V and Fabergé.
The first Fabergé office in London was established in 1903. It is believed that Prince George, who later became King George V, expressed his support for the company by purchasing more than 40 items. Peter Carl Fabergé, the founder of the House of Fabergé, was originally from St. Petersburg. Hence, the close ties between the British and Russian royal families during that time.
The third clue is that in 1904, Fabergé created a tiara for King George V's granddaughter, Alexandra, that included seven notably important pear-shaped aquamarines.
By 1911, the King was very familiar with aquamarine. This is due to his previous connections with Fabergé and the use of the precious stone in his granddaughter's tiara.
Since the early 20th century, aquamarine has remained a popular gem among royalty worldwide. Several prominent members of royal families own this type of jewel. One example is the Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, who possesses the Parure Tiara. Another is the late Princess of Wales, Diana, who owned a ring with this particular gemstone, which Meghan later wore on her wedding day.
Queen Elizabeth II was also gifted a necklace with large aquamarines by the people and the president of Brazil. Later, she commissioned a matching tiara. In 2022, for her Platinum Jubilee, the Queen wore a brooch with this precious stone, gifted to her by her father, King George VI, in 1944.
Aquamarine has played a significant role in the royal crown's history, particularly in King George V's coronation coronet in 1911. The gemstone's association with the sea and its calming properties made it a fitting choice for a king who had served in the navy. Moreover, this precious gem has continued to be a favoured stone among royalty worldwide. The proof stands with various members of the British royal family and other monarchies owning tiaras, necklaces, and rings featuring this intricate blue gem.
Since ancient times, aquamarine has been associated with purity, tranquillity, and calmness. Due to its healing and protecting properties, this dazzling stone has been put on a pedestal and has remained there ever since. In addition to these qualities, aquamarine was also believed to be a stone of courage, helping one to speak the truth and communicate more effectively. Therefore, it is no wonder this is a stone of immense importance!
If you're interested in exploring more about gemstones, take a look at Gemstone Detective easy-learning books. Otherwise, stay tuned for our third blog post in our Coronation Crown series. Next, we'll have a stab at identifying the gemstones used in today's St Edward's Crown.
Kim Rix GG GIA
Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence
PS - further reading: that gorgeous tiara Fabergé made for King George V's grand-daughter.