In May, the world tuned in to watch the most exciting British event of 2023: the coronation of King Charles III.
Even though it’s more than 70 years since a coronation has taken place in this country – the last one was for Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 – the event in May featured much of the same routine and regalia as last time.
A big part of that tradition is the use of the crown jewels. These fascinating pieces are kept under lock and key because of their immense importance, only coming out for use at very special royal ceremonies.
You may have noticed some of the truly unique pieces that featured in the coronation. Given their very important role in the long-standing royal ceremony, how much is each piece really worth? Read on to learn more.
The St Edward’s crown is one of the most significant pieces in the royal collection because it is used at the moment of coronation. It is only worn for a few moments during the ceremony because it is extremely heavy, weighing 2.23 kg (4.9 lb).
The crown was commissioned by Charles II in 1661 and is made of solid gold and set with more than 444 precious and semi-precious stones.
The St Edward’s Crown is worth an estimated £46.5 million.
The sovereign’s orb is a very symbolic piece used in coronations to symbolise the monarch’s divine right to rule. During the ceremony, the monarch holds the orb in their right hand.
The orb is made of a hollow gold sphere set with rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. On top of the orb is a cross, set with rose-cut diamonds, each with either a sapphire or an emerald in the centre, as well as pearls at the end of the arms of the cross.
It cost £1,150 when King Charles II commissioned the orb in the 1600s, which is almost £236,590 in today’s money. The orb is likely to be worth much more than this today.
The sovereign’s sceptre has been used at every coronation since Charles II was crowned in 1661 and contains some of the most precious stones in the world.
The sceptre is set with 333 diamonds, 31 rubies, 15 emeralds, 7 sapphires and other precious gemstones. It also holds the Cullinan I, the largest clear-cut diamond in the world, sometimes called the “Great Star of Africa”. The diamond was added to the sceptre in 1910.
The Cullinan I diamond is worth around £326 million by itself, and the sceptre is estimated to be worth at least several million pounds more than this.
The imperial state crown is used for a variety of state occasions, such as the annual State Opening of Parliament, but also plays a key role on coronation day. It is the crown that is worn when leaving the coronation ceremony.
It was first made for Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, and she also wore it at her own coronation.
The crown is made of gold and set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls and 4 rubies. It contains some of the most famous gems in the world, including the “Black Prince’s ruby”, the “Stuart sapphire” and the Cullinan II diamond. The Cullinan II diamond is cut from the same diamond as the Cullinan I, which is set in the Sovereign’s sceptre.
Many of the gemstones in the imperial state crown are the subject of fascinating legends. The Stuart sapphire, for example, is said to have been smuggled by James II when he fled England in 1688.
The imperial state crown is estimated to be worth between £2.7 billion and £4.6 billion.
Given the immense financial and cultural value of the jewels that are used in coronations for the British royal family, the security for the pieces is of world-class standard. Even though they are carefully protected, you can go and view the crown jewels at the Tower of London.
The crown jewels are kept in Jewel House at the Tower of London and protected by an armed guard as well as bomb-proof glass and extensive CCTV.
If you have a special collection of jewellery of your own, you’ll know just how important it is to have the right protection in place. While the financial value of jewellery can be high, the sentimental value can be even higher.
Speak to us if you’d like to find out more about how you can protect your favourite pieces of jewellery. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or use our contact form to request a callback from our team.
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