Tiara from the Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration exhibition
Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration

George IV's Diamond-Hilted Sword

Rundell Bridge & Rundell, c.1750 and 1820
Steel, gold, diamonds

The boatshell hilt of this small-sword dates from about 1750 and was probably made in Germany, but it was altered in 1820, the year of George IV's accession, by the royal goldsmiths and jewellers Rundell, Bridge & Rundell.

George IV’s sophisticated artistic taste and extravagance are well documented. He commissioned lavish building schemes at Carlton House, Brighton Pavilion, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, heralding one of the most significant periods of acquisition in the history of the Royal Collection.

He was a prolific purchaser of jewels, including this sword, which cost the very considerable sum of £3,687.

The hilt is mounted with hundreds of brilliant and rose-cut diamonds in rub-over gold settings applied to gold, which is richly chased with rococo ornament. The diamond ornament, blade and scabbard all appear to have been produced by Rundell, who added to the existing diamond embellishment of the sword.

The pommel is in the form of a barred helmet with a lion couchant as a crest, and the forward cross-guard is also fashioned into a lion’s head.

The two-edged blade is richly etched and gilded with foliage and military trophies and the crowned royal monogram on a blued ground.  It is strikingly similar to the blade of the Sword of Offering, which the King commissioned from Rundell a year later for his coronation.

The wooden scabbard covered in black fish skin is set with gold mounts chased with acanthus leaves set with further brilliant-cut diamonds.

Find out more in the Collection Online