Queen Victoria's Orange Blossoms

The language of flowers is a way of communicating through the use or arrangement of flowers. It has been used for thousands of years by various cultures.

Interest in this way of communicating reached its peak in Victorian England and in the United States during the 19th century. Flowers and plants were used to send covert messages.

One of the first gifts Prince Albert sent his fiancée Queen Victoria was a gold and porcelain orange blossom brooch, a flower traditionally associated with chastity and betrothal. At their wedding the Queen wore sprays of real orange blossom in her hair and on her bodice.

Prince Albert continued to give the Queen orange blossom jewelry, another brooch and matching earrings in December 1845 and a headdress in February 1846 (on their anniversary), eventually creating this beautiful set, parts of which she always wore on their wedding anniversary.

The headdress incorporates four small green enamel oranges, intended to represent the four eldest children - Victoria, Albert Edward, Alice and Alfred. The Queen wrote in her journal, ‘it is such a lovely wreath & such a dear kind thought of Albert’s’ (10 February 1846).

The brooches were two of a group of jewels placed in the ‘Albert Room’ at Windsor Castle after the Queen’s death in 1901 (the room where Prince Albert had died in 1861). The Queen left instructions for a specific list of personal jewellery to be placed there and not passed on in the family.

The Williamson Diamond Brooch

The Williamson Diamond brooch. The Williamson Diamond discovered in October 1947 at the Mwadui mine in Tanganyika, owned by the Canadian geologist and royalist Dr John Thoburn Williamson, for whom the diamond was named.

The 54.5 carat uncut stone, was presented by Dr Williamson, as a wedding present to the (then) Princess Elizabeth in 1947.

The firm of Briefel and Lemer of Clerkenwell were entrusted with cutting the diamond and subsequently turned the rough into a 23.6-carat round brilliant, a cut that was chosen to show off its rose color.

Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth made a point of visiting the Clerkenwell based firm and inspected the work of cutting and polishing of the stone on 10 March 1948.

The pink stone was set as the center of a brooch in the form of a jonquil flower (narcissus), designed by Frederick Mew of Cartier, in 1953.

Dr Williamson also gifted 170 small brilliant-cut diamonds, 12 baguette-cut diamonds and 21 marquise diamonds, which were used to form the petals, stalk and the leaves of this brooch.