Everything We Know About the Jewels in St Edward's Crown

| 7 min read

This year, we celebrate one of the most commemorative events in British history: the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III.

All eyes will be on King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort tomorrow, but there’s sure to be another key staple that everyone will be looking out for – the Crown Jewels, and specifically St Edward’s Crown.

St Edward's Crown

St Edward’s Crown is the oldest and heaviest crown still in use, and is used at the moment of coronation – a tradition that dates back to 13th century monarchs. The crown we see today isn’t quite the same as the one first made; the original was thought to date back to Edward the Confessor, the last Anglo-Saxon King of the 11th century.

The crown we see in the Tower of London today was made for Charles II in 1661. It’s not an exact replica of the medieval crown originally used, but the shape is similar in having four crosses-pattée, four fleurs-de-lis, and two arches. The crown has a velvet cap with an ermine band, and the frame is solid Gold, contributing to its overall weight of 2.23kg (4.9lbs).

Most notably, though, St Edward’s Crown contains a whopping 444 precious and semi-precious gemstones. They sit around the band and along the Gold frames, are either step-cut or rose-cut stones and are mounted in enamelled Gold collets.

Until the early 20th century, the gemstones that adorn St Edward’s Crown were only hired for coronations and returned after their use; it was only for the Coronation of George V in 1911 that the gemstones were permanently set. However, this now means that not only is the crown all the more beautiful, but we get to marvel the magnificent gemstones in all their glory – whether that’s behind glass in the Tower of London or on the head of a new British monarch.

So, ahead of Coronation Day, let’s explore the variety of precious and semi-precious gemstones that appear in St Edward’s Crown.

Aquamarine

Aquamarine

Aquamarine makes up the largest percentage of gemstones in St Edward’s Crown. There are 345 rose-cut Aquamarines altogether, giving the crown a beautiful blue glow.

Although not always recognised, Aquamarine is a firm royal favourite; the late Queen Elizabeth II and the late Princess Diana both held the sea-coloured stone in high regard, and it continues to sit pride of place in royal jewellery collections.

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White Topaz

Cullinan Topaz

St Edward’s Crown contains 37 White Topaz stones, adding a unique sparkle to the piece. The gem’s bright shine and brilliance make it very highly sought after, both in the UK and around the world. Out of all other gemstones, it resembles Diamond the most closely – but it gleams just as vividly when seen inside the crown.

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Tourmaline

Bi-Coloured Tourmaline, just one variety of the gem that sits in the Crown

27 Tourmalines sit inside St Edward’s Crown, making it the third most common stone to feature. The irony of this should be noted, though, as Tourmaline isn’t often discussed as a Royal Family favourite. So, you could say that Tourmaline is one of the most unexpected gemstones to find in such a prestigious piece.

However, as gemstone lovers, we happily welcome such a prominent feature of a beautiful stone like Tourmaline.

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Ruby

Ruby

There are 12 Rubies that adorn St Edward’s Crown. Rubies make frequent appearances within the Crown Jewels - with several of them taking pride of place in the Sovereign’s Orb - and it's no surprise, because the striking red hue makes a Ruby effortlessly noticeable.

Most exceptionally, the centre stone in the Imperial State Crown is referred to as the Black Prince’s Ruby; it's one of the oldest parts of the Crown Jewels, and weighs in at a staggering 170 carats. However, it’s not actually a Ruby – but a large irregular Cabochon Red Spinel.

Until 1783, all red gemstones were recognised as Rubies – so who knows how many misnamed red gems there are out there!

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Amethyst

Amethyst

St Edward’s Crown has seven Amethysts, and the stone has been a firm Royal favourite for centuries – it’s even known to have been favoured by Queen Charlotte in the 1700s.

Amethyst is steeped in a rich and romantic history due to its association to St. Valentine and its role as February’s birthstone, and is also widely believed to be a stone of protection. So, it’s one of the most perfect stones to have inside such a prestigious crown.

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Sapphire

Ceylon Sapphire

The Royal Family’s love of Sapphire is by no means a secret – if the Princess of Wales’ engagement ring is anything to go by, anyway!

We also know that the late, great Queen Elizabeth II favoured the Sapphire, and often opted to wear her Dubai Sapphire necklace for multiple royal engagements. Sapphire has a rightful place in St Edward’s Crown, and we couldn’t even imagine a Royal event like this without it making an appearance.

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Peridot

Peridot

As far as we’re aware (although we could be mistaken), St Edward’s Crown includes five Peridot gemstones.

Peridot, August’s birthstone, is actually one of the most special gemstones in the world due to its unique origins. Most gemstones are formed in the Earth’s crust; however, Peridot is the only gemstone (apart from Diamond) that is formed in the Earth’s mantle.

So, we feel that a gemstone as distinctive as this more than deserves a place in such a special historical artefact.

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Zircon

Zircon

St Edward’s Crown contains two Zircon gemstones, specifically an unusual variety known as ‘jargon’ or ‘jargoon’.

Jargon, according to modern mineralogists, refers to Zircon varieties fine enough to be cut as gemstones, and have an extremely light hue that could be light yellow or brown. Some may even be colourless, which can be achieved by heating stones of a certain colour.

When a Zircon is heated it can sometimes change colour; however, it can also increase the stone’s brilliance.

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Garnet

Red Garnet

Garnet is a gemstone that’s rarely seen within the Royal Family, which is why we’re so glad that it has a place in one of the world’s most famous crowns – even if it’s just the one stone!

The crown was last seen – and last worn – at the coronation of the late Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. So, although the Garnet rarely makes a public appearance, by sitting in St Edward’s Crown it arguably plays a rather important role.

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Carbuncle

Almandine Garnet

Carbuncle is another name for a red almandine gemstone (a member of the Garnet family), that sports a cabochon cut. Traditionally, the term ‘carbuncle’ would refer to any red gemstone – but, most often it would mean a red Garnet.

There’s just one of them in the crown, but they’re beautiful, and they’re one of the many things that make St Edward’s Crown different from the rest.

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Spinel

Spinel

We’ve talked about Spinel very briefly here, as the Black Prince’s Ruby takes centre stage in the Imperial State Crown. The Spinel is the most prominent stone in this crown, and is so special that it features in St Edward’s Crown, too.

There's only one Spinel set into St Edward’s Crown, but its small appearance by no means takes away from its dazzling beauty.

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Here at Gemporia, we know just how much the Royal Family adore and admire gemstones, and how prominent jewels will be in such a monumental event. So, for us, Coronation Day can’t come quite soon enough.

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