Skip to content
Home » Blog » Articles » History » The Crown Jewels

The Crown Jewels

With just a few days to go until the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III here in the UK we felt we should write up a post about the most spectacular set of jewellery in the whole country – the Crown Jewels.

The Crown Jewels as a general term is used to describe a collection of over 100 items that are stored in the Jewel House at the Tower of London. All of these items are linked to the role or status of the monarch, and are considered to be the treasures of the nation.
The oldest item in the collection is a gold spoon from the 12th century that is used to annoint the Monarch during the coronation ceremony.

Despite the size of the collection, we are going to focus on the the items used during the coronation ceremony itself – these are known as ‘The Coronation Regalia’.

The first item, and the centrepiece of the whole Crown Jewels is St Edward’s Crown. This is the crown that is traditionally used at the moment of ‘crowning’ within the coronation ceremony.

The current crown was made for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661, after the previous St Edward’s Crown was melted down by Parliament during the English Civil War.

The crown is made from 22 carat gold, and measures 12 inches tall. It is set with 444 precious and semi-precious stones including 345 aquamarines, 37 white topazes, 27 tourmalines, 12 rubies, 7 amethysts, 6 sapphires, 2 jargoons, 1 garnet, 1 spinel and 1 carbuncle.

In total this weighs 2.23 kg or 4.9 lb.

The second item within the Coronation Regalia is the Imperial State Crown.

This is probably the most recognisable of the regalia, as it is the most commonly used Crown in the collection. For the coronation ceremony the Imperial State Crown is worn during the royal procession. It is then used by the monarch during the State Opening of Parliament.

The current version of this crown was made in 1937, from gold, platinum and silver.
It is set with 2868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls as well as several notable stones.

At the front sits Cullinan II, the second largest stone (317 carat) cut from the Cullinan Diamond.
At the back is the ‘Stuart Sapphire’ (104 carat).
Above Cullinan II is set the ‘Black Prince’s Ruby’ (170 carat), though this is actually a Spinel rather than a Ruby.
On the top cross is set ‘St Edward’s Sapphire’. This is a smaller stone, but dates back to the coronation ring of St Edward the Confessor in 1043.

The crown measures 12.4 in tall, and weighs 1.06 kg or 2.3 lb.

The final crown used in the coronation ceremony is that used by the Queen Consort. For HM Queen Camilla this will be Queen Mary’s Crown.

This crown was made for the coronation of King George V & Queen Mary in 1911, and paid for privately by Queen Mary.

It is made from a silver frame lined in gold, and set with 2,200 diamonds.

For the coronation of Queen Camilla three of it’s notable stones are being reset into the crown – Cullinan III, IV and V – which were used in brooches by the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The next item we are looking at are the Armills that are placed onto the wrists of the monarch during the coronation.

These are known as the ‘bracelets of sincerity and wisdom’, and represent the traditional chivalric values.

They are made from gold, and decorated with the symbols of the nations of the UK in enamel, including a harp, a thistle and a rose. They are fitted with an invisible hinge with a Tudor rose clasp and have a red velvet lining. 

The armills have been used in every coronation since 1661, with the exception of HM Queen Elizabeth II who had a new set made.

The Sovereign’s Orb was commissioned for the coronation of Charles II, to replace the previous orb that had been used since the coronation of Henry VIII.

It represents the sovereign’s power, symbolising the Christian world, with its cross mounted on a globe, and the bands of jewels dividing it up into three sections representing the three continents known in medieval times.

The orb is made from 22ct gold formed into a hollow sphere and decorated with with 375 pearls, 365 diamonds, 18 rubies, 9 emeralds, 9 sapphires, 1 amethyst and 1 piece of glass.

It weighs 1.07 kg (2.4 lb)

Here we have the first of two sceptre’s that the monarch is invested with as part of the coronation ceremony.

This one is the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross. It was originally made in 1661, but has seen significant alterations over the years since.

The current iteration is made from 22ct gold in three sections, separated by enamel collars. At the top of the staff is an enamelled heart-shaped structure, which holds a huge drop-shaped diamond, Cullinan I (530.2 carat). This is then surmounted by enamelled brackets representing a rose, thistle and shamrock supporting a faceted amethyst surmounted by a cross pattée encrusted with an emerald and small diamonds.

In total the sceptre features 333 diamonds, 31 rubies, 15 emeralds, 7 sapphires, 6 spinels, and 1 amethyst.

The whole staff measures around 3ft tall, and weighs 1.17 kg (2.6 lb).

The second sceptre used is the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove. This sceptre is known as the ‘Rod of Equity and Mercy’, is emblematic of the monarchs spiritual role.

Made from gold in three sections with jewel studded collars to link them, the top of the sceptre features a stunning enamel dove resting on a gold orb with cross, representing the Holy Spirit.

It is set with 285 gemstones, including 94 diamonds, 53 rubies, 10 emeralds, 4 sapphires and 3 spinels.

This sceptre is slightly longer than the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross measuring 3.6 ft overall.

During the coronation ceremony the Sovereigns Ring is placed on the fourth finger of the sovereign by the archbishop, as a symbol of ‘kingly dignity’. 

The current ring was made for the coronation William IV in 1831, and has been used for every coronation since Edward VII in 1902. Prior to this each monarch had a custom ring made for their coronations.

The ring is made from gold and set with a large sapphire overlaid with four rectangular-cut and one square-cut ruby. These are surrounded by 14 diamonds. There are two further diamonds set into the shoulders of the ring.

The design is intended to represent the red St George’s Cross (England) on the blue background of St Andrew’s Cross (Scotland), symbolising the union of the crowns.

The Spurs were another item created in 1661 for the coronation of Charles II. They are made from 22ct gold and deep red velvet.

The prick on the spur takes the form of a Tudor rose with a spike at the centre.

These are used to represent the “knightly values and virtues” of the monarch, and during the coronation ceremony are held to the ankles of the monarch. Spurs have been used at every coronation since Richard I in 1189, and prior to the Restoration they were actually fastened to the feet of the monarch.

There are five different swords used during the coronation ceremony, but only one is handled directly by the monarch – The Jewelled Sword of Offering.

This was our favourite item on display when we visited the Tower of London – just for the phenomenal details involved.

The blade itself is decorated in blued and gilt steelwork featuring; the national emblems (roses, thistles and shamrocks), the Royal coat of arms, a royal crown with GR monogram & a WR monogram, a trophy of arms, and a figure of Britannia.

The hilt is made from gold, and set with diamonds, rubies & emeralds to create designs of oak leaves, acorns & lions.

Finally the scabbard is another work of art with roses, thistles and shamrocks, set with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. The end of the scabbard is set with diamonds, emeralds and turquoise to create more oak leaves & acorns. The top of the scabbard is set with sapphires and a ruby. 

The Queen Consort’s Ring, also known as Queen Adelaide’s ring, is presented to the queen consort during the coronation ceremony.

This ring was made for the coronation of William IV and Queen Adelaide in 1831. Since the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 all queens consort have used Queen Adelaide’s ring at their coronations.

The ring is made from gold and set with a single large ruby to the centre. This is surrounded by a halo of 14 diamonds set in silver collets. The gold shank is set with fourteen graduated rubies.

The Queen Consort is also presented with two sceptre’s during the coronation ceremony.

The first of these is the Queen Consort’s Sceptre with Cross (left). This is made from gold in three sections and set with rose cut quartzes.

The second sceptre used by the Queen Consort is the Queen Consort’s Rod with Dove. This is made from ivory in three sections joined by gold collars. The top of the sceptre features a gold orb enamelled with the national emblems (rose, thistle, harp and fleur-de-lis) with a cross above on which perches an enamelled dove with wings folded. 

Both of these were created in 1685 for the coronation of Mary of Modena and have been used at the coronation of every Queen Consort since.

We were lucky enough to visit the Tower of London in January, shortly before various items from the Crown Jewels were removed for their restoration and adjustments in preparation for the Coronation – and we can say that in person they are simply breathtaking.

If you are interested in learning more about Royal jewellery, then we suggest heading over to our article on some of the stunning jewellery worn by HM Queen Elizabeth II, including some of the Cullinan diamonds in their alternate fittings.