Sunday, April 17, 2011

Masterpiece of the Week: The Sovereign’s Scepter, 1661

The Sovereign's Scepter (Sceptre)
English, 1661
Gold, Diamonds, Rubies, Amethyst, Topaz
The Royal Collection
Crown Copyright
The British Monarchy
Known as The Scepter with the Cross, St Edward's Scepter, the Sovereign's Scepter or the Royal Scepter, this beautiful object dates to 1661 and features one of the most famous gems in the world.

Originally created in 1661 for the coronation of King Charles II, the scepter sported a different central stone for over two hundred years. In 1905, upon the discovery of the Cullinan Diamond, the scepter was redesigned to include the Cullinan I (known as “The Great Star of Africa”). The stone, weighing over 530 carats, can be removed from the scepter with ease and worn as a brooch on those occasions that carrying a scepter might seem a little “too much.”

So, what does the scepter signify? This scepter is a symbol of the monarch’s temporal authority under the cross. A second scepter—The Scepter with the Dove—represents the monarch’s spiritual authority. During a coronation, the Scepter with the Cross is held in the right hand while the Scepter with the Dove is held in the left.

This gorgeous piece, along with the other crown jewels of Britain, can be viewed at the Jewel House at The Tower of London.

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