Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mastery of Design: The Imperial State Crown

The Imperial State Crown. Courtesy of The British Monarchy.
One of the most stunning achievements of the jeweler’s art, the British Imperial State Crown, is, perhaps, the most famous piece in the Crown Jewels. Based on the crown worn by St. Edward, the crown is an architectural marvel. From a base of four crosses pattée which alternates with four fleurs-de-lis, four half-arches support an orb and cross—symbols of the monarchy. The crown itself is lined in velvet and ermine.

A glittering mosaic of 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies, the crown also boasts some of the most famous gems in the world including The Black Prince’s “Ruby,” a sapphire from the ring of Edward the Confessor, the Stuart Sapphire and the magnificent Cullinan II Diamond which alone weighs 317.4 carats.

The current version of the crown was designed and manufactured in 1937 for the coronation of King George VI and was altered for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Worn annuallyby the Queen for the State Opening of Parliament, the crown usually resides in The Jewel House in the Tower of London with the other crown jewels.

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