The Greville Jewelry Collection

Some of the most exquisite pieces of jewelry worn by the British Royal family came from a relatively unknown woman named Mrs. Greville.  Included in this small priceless collection are two beautiful tiaras, one is the Greville Diamond Tiara worn in the past by the Queen Mother and now by Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall and the other is the  Greville Emerald Kokoshnik worn by Princess Eugenie at her wedding in October 2018.  Another favorite item that was worn previously by the Queen Mother and now worn by the Duchess of Cornwall is the stunning Greville Festoon Necklace.  Also from the Greville collection is the Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace worn most recently by the Duchess of Cambridge.

Before I go into detail about several of the Greville jewelry pieces let’s find out about the women who originally possessed this amazing jewelry collection and how it came to the British Royal family.  Margaret Andersen Greville (born: December 20, 1863 died: September 15, 1942) was the daughter of the multimillionaire founder of the Fountain Brewery in Scotland, William McEwan, and his mistress Helen Anderson.  It is interesting to note that over twenty years later McEwan and Helen finally married in 1885 after the death of her first husband, at the time their daughter, Margaret, was 21 years old. 

In 1891, Margaret married the Hon. Ronald Greville who was eldest son of the 2nd Baron Greville and later he became a Member of Parliament.  In 1906 Margaret’s father purchased Polesden Lacey, a large country estate located in Surrey, England for the couple.  Sadly, Margaret’s husband died two years later in 1908 and then her father in 1913.  Since Margaret was the only child of McEwan, upon his death the bulk of his estate went to her thus making her a very wealthy woman.    

Mrs. Greville was a philanthropist, a socialite and she was named a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1922.  She was friends with many members of the British Royal family including Queen Mary and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later to become Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother).  In fact when Lady Elizabeth married Prince Albert (later to become King George VI) in 1923 they spent part of their honeymoon at Mrs. Greville’s country estate.

When Mrs. Greville died in 1942 she was buried at Polesden Lacey and the estate is now run by the National Trust and is open to the public.  So, throughout the years Mrs. Greville was a great collector of fine jewelry especially Boucheron and Cartier.   Since the Grevilles had no children the majority of her priceless jewelry collection went to the Queen Mother.  The size of the collection was not made known to the public at the time but it is estimated that there were about 60 pieces of jewelry. Then upon her the death of the Queen Mother in 2002 her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, inherited the Greville jewelry collection. 

So, let’s take a look at a few of the items from the Greville jewelry collection that has been worn by the British Royal Family over the past decades.

The Greville DiamondTiara

Perhaps one of the most iconic pieces from the Greville jewelry collection is a stunning diamond tiara.  Since the social elite were known to “repurpose” their jewelry often by taking the stones from one piece and using them to create a different piece, a necklace could be made into another necklace or a tiara could be used to create a necklace.   

The history of the Greville Tiara is an interesting example because it has taken on three distinct design styles.  The first version of the tiara, shown below, had a very different design that featured a floral motif and was worn by Mrs. Greville for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1901.  It has been noted that the diamonds used to create this tiara might have come from another tiara that had been a wedding present from her father.     

Then, in 1921 Mrs. Greville had that tiara redesigned into a second version, shown below, which became known as the Boucheron Honeycomb Tiara.  The platinum millegrain setting features an intricate “honeycomb” pattern with pave diamonds and large round diamonds set in the center of each section.  This is the version of the tiara that Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother received as part of the inheritance from Mrs. Greville.

Now known as the Greville tiara it became one of the Queen Mother’s favorites which she wore quite frequently.  Then in 1953 the Queen Mother sent the tiara, shown below, to Cartier to be redesigned into a third version.  There was an addition of five raised sections that featured a large marquise diamond with three large round diamonds at the center and four additional sections with each featuring four large round diamonds.   

After the Queen Mother’s death the Greville collection went to her daughter, the present Queen Elizabeth II but she never wore the Greville tiara in public.  Then in 2005 after her marriage to the Prince Charles Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall was given a long term loan of the Greville tiara and it has now become one of her favorites to wear.  

The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara

The Emerald Kokoshnik tiara was commissioned in 1919 by Mrs. Greville and was made by Boucheron.  The tiara is designed in a style known as kokoshnik (a traditional Russian headdress) which was a type of tiara popular with the Russian Imperial Family.  The tiara features pave diamonds set in platinum with a large 93.7 carat cabochon-cut emerald in the center and several smaller square-cut emeralds set on either side.  

The Emerald Kokoshnik tiara was part of the Greville jewelry collection that was inherited by the Queen Mother and then Queen Elizabeth II.  The tiara was never worn by either of the two Queens and in fact it was not seen in public for several decades.  Then in 2018, Queen Elizabeth graciously loaned the tiara to her granddaughter to wear for her wedding to Jack Brooksbank, for more information on this British Royal Wedding please click on the link. 

The Greville Festoon Necklace

The Greville Festoon Necklace is perhaps one of the most extravagant pieces from the Greville jewelry collection that was inherited by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 1942.  Mrs. Greville had commissioned Cartier to create the Festoon Necklace in 1929 “repurposing” stones from her previous jewelry.  The original design featured two long strands of diamonds set in platinum; each section of each strand has one large diamond flanked by two smaller diamonds.  A later version of the necklace added an additional shorter three strand necklace; the two pieces (the two strands and the three strands) worn together make a stunning necklace but look equally impressive if worn separately.

After the Queen Mother received the Festoon Necklace it became one of her favorite pieces and she would often were the three strand necklace by itself but for a special occasions she would “dress to impress” by wearing all five strands together with the Greville Tiara.  As she got older the Queen Mother and became frailer she would most often wear only the three strand necklace so as not to overwhelm her small stature.  When the Queen Mother passed away in 2002, the Greville jewelry collection went to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. 

After her marriage to Prince Charles, the Queen has given a long term loan of the Festoon Necklace to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.  Much like the Queen Mother, the necklace has become one of her favorite pieces and looks very impressive when paired with the Greville Tiara.    

The Greville Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace

Mrs. Greville originally purchased the Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace from Boucheron in 1907.  The intricate floral design of the necklace features rubies and diamonds set in silver and gold and finished with a diamond pendant. 

After the necklace came into the possession of Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother) she eventually gave it to her oldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth (later to become Queen Elizabeth II) as a wedding gift when she married Prince Phillip (later known as the Duke of Edinburgh) in 1947. During the 1950s, the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth wore the Rudy and Diamond Bandeau Necklace frequently for her evening engagements but the deep V of the necklace design with the added length of the diamond pendant made it a difficult piece to wear with her evening dresses.  Despite having it shortened, by the 1980s she wore the necklace less often. 

Then in 2017 the Queen loaned the necklace to Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge who paired it beautifully with a blush pink evening gown.   

The Greville Emerald and Diamond Necklace

It has been speculated that the Greville Emerald Necklace was created from emeralds that were once part of a necklace that belonged to Empress Josephine and the diamonds came from a necklace once owned by Marie Antoinette.  This might be an embellished story originating from Mrs. Greville to add even more significance to the impressive necklace.  The Greville Emerald Necklace design featured large square-cut emeralds surrounded by diamonds linked together with a central large rectangular-cut emerald pendant.    

The Greville Emerald Necklace was another beautiful item from the jewelry collection that was inherited by the Queen Mother in 1942 upon the death of Mrs. Greville.  The Queen Mother wore the Greville Emerald Necklace often for state banquets or other important engagements.  The Queen Mother wore it was for a formal portrait in 1990 as seen below with her daughter, Princess Margaret and two of her grandchildren, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne.

The Greville jewelry collection was inherited by Queen Elizabeth in 2002 after the death of the Queen Mother and she has not worn the Greville Emerald Necklace since that time.  Recently it was thought that the necklace she wore to a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace in 2019 was made from the Greville Necklace.  The 10 square-shaped emeralds surrounded by diamonds looks very familiar but with the addition of 10 emerald drops.  The Queen wore this new necklace with the Vladimir tiara which was also set with emerald drops that she paired with emerald and diamond earrings.     

The Greville Chandelier Earrings

The Greville Chandelier Earrings were made for Mrs. Greville by Cartier in an Art Deco style and feature diamonds in several different cuts and shapes including emerald, square, pear, baguette and more in a platinum setting.  The earrings were part of the Greville jewelry collection inherited by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 1942 upon the death of Mrs. Greville.

When Princess Elizabeth (later to become Queen Elizabeth II) married in 1947 she was given the Greville Chanelier Earrings as a wedding gift from her parents.  Shown below is a 1953 photo of the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth wearing the earrings with the Diamond Diadem. 

Throughout the years the Greville Chandelier Earrings have become one of the Queen’s favorite pieces of jewelry wearing them quite frequently for evening engagements.  

The Greville Peardrop Earrings

The Greville Peardrop earrings were made for Mrs.Greville in 1938 by Cartier and feature two pear-shaped diamonds weighing over 20 carats which are suspended from emerald-cut and pentagonal diamonds and set in platinum.

After Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother inherited the Greville Peardrop Earrings became one of her favorite pieces from the grevillea jewelry collection and she wore them very often.  Upon the Queen Mother’s death in 2002 the Greville Peardrop Earrings were inherited to Queen Elizabeth.        

So, these are just a few of the pieces from the Greville jewelry collection that have been worn by the British Royal family since they were inherited from Mrs. Greville after her death in 1942.