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Queen Elizabeth II had a jewellery mishap on her big day – and it involved pearls

Queen Elizabeth II has been renowned for her collection of jewellery for as long as we can remember – from diamond tiaras to sapphire brooches.

When the then Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip on 20th November 1947, she was gifted two historic pieces of jewellery by her parents – the Queen Anne and Queen Caroline pearl necklaces.

To celebrate what would have been the couple’s 75th wedding anniversary, engagement and wedding ring experts at Steven Stone have taken a close look at the two pieces, revealing everything you need to know – including the mishap that involved them on the big day.

The necklaces are generally worn together as a pair, resembling a double-stranded pearl necklace, but they are two distinct, separate pieces with individual clasps. 

The smaller necklace is the Queen Anne, which is strung with 46 pearls; the slightly longer Queen Caroline Necklace has 50 pearls.

Princess Elizabeth planned to wear the necklaces on her wedding day, but when she was getting ready to depart, staff realized that the necklaces were still on display St. James’s Palace with the rest of the couple’s wedding gifts.

The Queen’s private secretary, Jock Colville, volunteered to fetch the pearls but was faced with nightmare traffic. Fortunately, due to King Haakon VII of Norway – the bride’s great-uncle – loaning him his limousine, Jock managed to deliver the pearls in time.

Thanks to a tradition started by Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth II is reported to have fallen in love with pearl jewellery from being a child.

Royal experts report that Queen Victoria gave each of her daughters and granddaughters a single pearl on their birthday as they grew up, so that by the time they reached the age at 18, they would have enough pearls for a necklace.

The late monarch also received a three strand pearl necklace from her father King George VI for her coronation in 1937, which she wore earlier this year, to kick off her 70th anniversary celebrations.

“The Queen Anne and Queen Caroline necklaces are elegant pieces with a lot of history attached to them. According to Queen Victoria’s 1896 jewellery inventory, one necklace belonged to Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch, and one belonged to Queen Caroline, the wife of King George II.

Despite being separate pieces with individual clasps, the necklaces are generally worn together as a pair, resembling a double-strand pearl necklace – the Queen Anne is strung with 46 pearls, whilst the Queen Caroline has 50 pearls.

This wasn’t the last royal jewellery mishap and several have happened since – including Princess Diana wearing her art deco diamond and emerald choker from Queen Elizabeth II as a headband to her 36th birthday celebrations.

I’d estimate the Queen Anne and Queen Caroline necklaces to have a collective value of $30,000.”

maxwell stone, creative director, steven stone

If you’re looking for jewellery to rival Queen Elizabeth II’s collection, our team can design bespoke creations, tailored to you. From engagement rings and wedding rings to necklaces and pendants, your options are endless.

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