The day before their wedding, Prince Albert presented Queen Victoria with a sapphire and diamond brooch set in gold. The brooch took pride of place on the bodice of her wedding gown the following day.
The oval shaped sapphire, surrounded by twelve round diamonds, is a simple design but was an obvious favourite as the Queen wore it on several occasions over the next twenty years. Albert presented his wife with a smaller version for her 26th birthday and was said to have commissioned one for each of his daughters.
The blue sapphire has long been associated with royalty and is said to bring wisdom and truth, as well as peace of mind and serenity. Sapphires are also associated with romantic love, representing fidelity and romantic devotion. Of course, the diamonds are a symbol of eternal love and commitment.
Queen Victoria stopped wearing coloured jewellery after the shock death of Albert in 1861 but it was obvious the brooch held deep sentimental value as she left it to the Crown in her will to ensure it remained within the Royal Family. As an “heirloom of the Crown” the brooch tends to be worn only by queens and has been worn by three consorts: Alexandra, Mary and Elizabeth. The brooch has also been a favourite of Queen Elizabeth II.
“a splendid brooch, a large sapphire set round with diamonds, which is really quite beautiful.”–Queen Victoria