What has 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 5 rubies and has existed since the 15th century? Well, it would be the Imperial State Crown of course. Symbolizing the sovereignty of the monarch, the Imperial State Crown is generally worn by the new monarch when they depart from Westminster Abbey at their coronation. It is not normally used to actually crown the new welcomed monarch, although Queen Victoria and King Edward VII were both crowned during their coronation with an earlier version of the Imperial State Crown. The historical crown is also worn by the Queen at an annual event, known as the State Opening of Parliament. The Imperial State Crown contains several famous precious colored gemstones and each of them has a story of their own:
St. Edward's Sapphire
The royal sapphire was named after Edward the Confessor, who was known for wearing the famous sapphire as a stone set in his ring. There are many legends surrounding St. Edward's sapphire, and many believe the gem made its first appearance in the year 1042, when it was set into Edward's coronation ring. The sapphire had seen and endured the rein of Oliver Cromwell and sustained the disassembling of the Crown Jewels and was even later recut from its original shape into its current finish after the Restoration for Charles II. It was later reset as the finial cross on the Imperial State Crown by Queen Victoria.
Lesser Star of Africa
Originating from the largest gem-quality diamond ever found was the Lesser Star of Africa, or Cullinan II. The Cullinan diamond (the original rough) was an astonishing large gem-quality rough diamond weighing in at 3,106.75 carats. It was later cut down into 7 large pieces and 96 smaller pieces. Cullinan II, or the Lesser Star of Africa, is a 317.4 carat rectangular cushion cut diamond set in the front of the Imperial State Crown. The Lesser Star of Africa is the 2nd largest diamond cut from the original rough of Cullinan and is the 4th largest cut and polished diamond in the whole world.
The Stuart Sapphire is sometimes referred to as the Stewart Sapphire, but they are one in the same. This historical sapphire is currently set into the rear of the Imperial State Crown and its name was derived from the Scottish House of Stewart. The Stuart Sapphire was originally located in the front of the crown, below the Black Prince's Ruby, placed there by order of Queen Victoria in 1838. However, with the acquisition of the Cullinan diamonds (I and II), the sapphire was repositioned to the rear of the crown to allow space for the 317.4 carat cushion cut center. The flawless sapphire is a cabochon cut sapphire weighing in at 104 carats. It has been described as being a medium, rich blue color, and also as being the most coveted shade of blue found in sapphires.
The Black Prince's Ruby
The Black Prince's Ruby is perhaps one of the most famous gems of all the Imperial State Crown jewels. Despite its name, it's actually neither a black stone nor is it a ruby, which is possibly why the stone has become so famously known. Sitting at nearly 5 centimeters long and at an estimated 170 carats, this glowing red uncut 'ruby' has been part of the Royal Family since 1367, but was only recently discovered to be red spinel with credit being owed to the modernization and technological advancements of mineral studies. The royal gem was named after the 'Black Prince', Edward of Woodstock. Currently the Black Prince's Ruby sits in the cross pattee in the front of the Imperial State Crown, just above the Lesser Star of Africa.
The Imperial State Crown has been rebuilt and repaired countless times since the birth of the crown. The present version of the crown was made for the coronation of King George VI in 1937 by the Crown Jewellers, which at the time was Garrard & Co. The newly appointed and current Crown Jewellers is now G. Collins & Sons of Royal Tunbridge Wells. The Imperial State Crown is only one of the many various famous crowns belonging to the Royal Sovereignty.
Sapphire Gemstone Video: