Royal jewellery experts usually know which jewels members of the Royal Family are wearing whenever they step out for a royal engagement. But for one of Her Majesty‘s last royal gala appearences, the late Queen wore a necklace not recognised by many.
The Queen’s best and biggest emeralds came from the Greville Bequest, an Edwardian collection of jewels that dates back to the early 1900s.
The collection is named after Maggie Greville, née Anderson, who married Conservative MP Ronnie Greville in 1981.
Maggie bequeathed several emerald and diamond jewels from her jewellery box to the Queen Mother in 1942, incluidng a classic dimaond and emerald necklace and a pair of emerald drop earrings.
There was also the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara, which Princess Eugenie wore for her royal wedding in October 2018.
These pieces are rare and valuable becuase they contain emeralds, which are not often worn by the royals – they usually opt for diamonds and sapphires.
The emerald and diamond necklace was worn by the Queen Mother on several occasions, but there could have been two necklaces made with these gems – one small one and one larger one.
In his book Boucheron, The Secret Archives, jewellery historian Vincent Meylan mentioned the two separate emerald necklaces, explaining that Maggie took both and had them combined into a single grand necklace.
Howeever, the plot thickens: following Maggie’s death in 1942, a piece published in the Evening Standard described her jewels and included that among them were “two fine emerald and diamond necklaces – one of square emeralds, and the other with cabochon emerald drops”.
The first of these was understood to be the one often worn by the Queen Mother, while the second, more mysterious one, was later seen on no one other than Queen Elizabeth herself.
In Decemeber 2019, the Queen appeared for her last appearance in gala jewellery, according to Lauren Kiehna of the Court Jeweller, for a diplomatic reception.
The monarch donned a white, long-sleeved dress, but it was her necklace that stood out: it was an eye-catching diamond and emerald piece that had never before been seen in public.
The jewel seemed to be from the 19th century and featured both square and cabochon drops: like the ones described on the two necklaces by the Evening Standard.
This necklace, therefore, seemed to be the necklace Maggie had created by combining two separate small and large emerald necklaces.
This was the second, mysterious necklace from the Greville Bequest, and, unlike the first, never worn by the Queen Mother.
At the time, Vincent Meylan commented on the necklace on social media, saying: “Not very often that I find myself with an unanswered question about Queen Elizabeth jewels.
“But I have to admit my absolute ignorance concerning the origin of that stunning emerald necklace the Queen was wearing yesterday evening at the diner of the diplomatic [corps] at Buckingham Palace.
“If I was a betting man, and I am, I would hazard that this could be the famous second Greville emerald necklace.”