Queen Victoria’s Wedding Brooch
Sapphire, diamonds and gold
3.7 x 4.1cm
Presented to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert
The day before her wedding, Queen Victoria recorded the gift from ‘dearest Albert’ of ‘a splendid brooch, a large sapphire set round with diamonds, which is really quite beautiful’. On the wedding day itself she recorded that she wore ‘dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch’ with her Turkish diamonds, given her in 1838 by Sultan Mahmud of Turkey and made up into a necklace and earrings the following year by Rundells. The Prince’s gift, which the Queen wore frequently until 1861, and which she designated in her will as an heirloom of the Crown, reflects something of the simplicity of early nineteenth-century jewellery design. The brooch may have been supplied by a leading London jeweller such as Kitching & Abud or Mortimer & Hunt, both of whom Prince Albert patronised significantly in the early years of the marriage. If, however, the Prince purchased the brooch abroad, it may be among the unspecified payments to firms in Hanau.
The setting of a large, coloured stone in a border of brilliants - in this case mounted in open-backed collets - is in a style that became popular during the Regency and remained in favour with the Queen well into her reign. Five years later the Prince gave the Queen ‘a beautiful single sapphire brooch, set round in diamonds, much like the beauty he gave at our marriage, only not quite so large’ for her twenty-sixth birthday. This was bequeathed by the Queen to her third daughter, Princess Helena. The origin of the second brooch is not known, but in the period around this birthday Prince Albert spent considerable sums on jewellery with a number of his favourite suppliers: £420 8s with Hunt & Roskell on 7 March; £889 6s with Garrards on 23 April; and £978 1s with Kitching & Abud on 2 June.
Text adapted from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010