The Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure

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Origin of the word "parure"

The word "parure" meaning "adornment" in French, came into usage in the 17th century Europe to refer to a set of three or more matching pieces of jewelry, which became popular during this period. Eventually the meaning of the word was widened to include an entire wardrobe or suite of matching jewelry. The ownership of a "parure" (pronounced pah-rur) became a status symbol for the royalty and the wealthier classes. In the case of the royalty a "parure" would include a diadem. tiara, bandeau,  comb, necklace, bracelets, rings, earrings, brooch, and stomacher. It is on record that Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte lavished such expensive "parure" on his beloved first wife Josephine and later his second wife Marie Louise, which they wore at state functions.


Origin of the name Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure

The "Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure"  refers to a complete suite of emerald jewelry, which also included an emerald and diamond tiara. The suite now belongs to the personal jewelry collection of Queen Elizabeth II, which she inherited from her grandmother Queen Mary, the Queen consort of King George V. The "Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure" was designed and crafted by the crown jewelers, in anticipation of the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary on June 22, 1911, and their subsequent proclamation as the Emperor and Empress of India, at a special Durbar organized for this purpose in Delhi, on December 12, 1911.

The name Cambridge was derived from the Duke of Cambridge, Adolphus, the seventh son of King George III, who together with his wife Princess Augusta of Hesse, were the original owners of the magnificent emeralds that were incorporated in different pieces of the "parure". At least two of the pieces in the "parure", an emerald necklace and an emerald brooch were presented by the wives of the Maharajah's of India, the Maharanis, including the Maharani of Patiala. Thus the name "Delhi Dunbar Parure" seem to have been inspired for two reasons, one, the parure being specially designed and executed  in anticipation of the Delhi Durbar and two, some of the pieces in the parure were received as gifts by Queen Mary during the durbar.


Constituent pieces of jewelry of the Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure

The list of the pieces of jewelry that constitute the Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure include the following :-

1) The Delhi Durbar Tiara

2) The Cambridge emerald choker

3) The Cambridge emerald earrings

4) The Delhi Durbar necklace

5) The Delhi Durbar brooch

6) The Cambridge emerald stomacher


The Delhi Durbar Tiara

The Delhi Durbar Tiara created by Garrards in 1911

The Delhi Durbar Tiara was designed and constructed by the Crown Jewelers, Garrard & Co. in anticipation of Queen Mary's visit to India together with her husband King George V, to attend the special durbar organized in Delhi in December 1911, to celebrate the coronation of her husband and the start of his reign as King and Emperor of India.


Reasons that prompted the creation of the special Imperial Crown of India and the Delhi Durbar Tiara

Garrards also created a special crown for King George V, for this occasion, known as the Imperial Crown of India, as it was forbidden by an old royal tradition, for the British Crown Jewels to leave the United Kingdom. Thus the Imperial Crown of India was created from the King's own personal resources, and was considered as the personal property of the King. The status quo prevails up to this day, and the Imperial Crown of India is considered as part of Queen Elizabeth II's personal jewelry collection, even though it is on display in the Jewel House of the Tower of London. Perhaps the creation of the Delhi Durbar Tiara using emeralds and diamonds that belonged personally to Queen Mary, might also have been prompted by this ancient royal restrictions, and hence the Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure is also considered toady as the personal property of Queen Elizabeth II.


Features of the original Delhi Durbar Tiara

The Delhi Durbar Tiara is made up of a circlet of brilliant-cut diamonds, mounted in gold and set in platinum, and arranged in a pattern of forget-me-nots and lyres. When the tiara was first made in 1911, it was topped with five drop-shaped cabochon Cambridge emeralds, that arose as spikes from the tiara. Two satellite diamonds from the Cullinan were also incorporated in the tiara.


Queen Mary, Queen consort-of-king-george-v wearing the-delhi-cambridge-dumbar-parure

Queen Mary wearing the Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure

The black and white photograph of Queen Mary above showing her wearing the complete set of jewelry belonging to the Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure, clearly shows the emerald spikes on the Delhi Durbar Tiara, and also the cushion-cut Cullinan IV diamond placed as the centerpiece of the tiara.


The modified Delhi Durbar Tiara

Queen Mary subsequently removed the emeralds from the Delhi Durbar Tiara, and incorporated them into a newly designed tiara, which is also now the personal property of Queen Elizabeth II. The Cullinan diamonds were also removed and converted to brooches. The photograph of Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall wearing the Delhi Durbar Tiara in October 2005, at  a state banquet held in the Buckingham Palace in honor of the visiting King and Queen of Norway, shows the modification of the centerpiece of the tiara after the removal of the Cullinan IV diamond.


The Delhi Durbar Tiara used by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen consort of King George VI, during a trip to South Africa in 1947.

Both the Imperial Crown of India and the Delhi Durbar Tiara were worn by King George V and Queen Mary respectively, only on the ceremonial occasion of the Delhi Durbar held in 1911, as they were made specifically for that purpose. The Imperial Crown of India has not been worn by any sovereign since then. Likewise the Delhi Durbar Tiara was not worn by Queen Mary after 1911. However, in 1947, Queen Mary lent the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth (the Queen mother) and the consort of King George VI, for an official visit to South Africa by the King and Queen. This was just the second occasion that the Delhi Durbar Tiara was worn by the Queen of the United Kingdom. After the death of Queen Mary in 1953, the Cambridge and Delhi Durbar Parure including the Delhi Durbar Tiara was inherited by the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, who gave emerald and diamond suite to her daughter Queen Elizabeth II. The suite entered the personal jewelry collection of Queen Elizabeth II, and she wore some of the pieces in the suite, such as the Delhi Durbar necklace, the Cambridge emerald choker and earrings on different occasions, but she had never had the opportunity to wear the Delhi Durbar Tiara. In fact the Queen's most favorite piece in the suite turned out to be the Delhi Durbar Necklace, a piece she had been seen to be wearing on many occasions.


The Delhi Durbar Tiara back in the limelight after 58 years

The Delhi Durbar Tiara, which had not been worn by any member of the royal family since 1947, was worn again for the third time, when Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall wore it for a state banquet held in Buckingham Palace in October 2005, in honor of the visiting King and Queen of Norway. This was the first time the Duchess of Cornwall had worn a tiara for a state function, and had been loaned to her by Queen Elizabeth II for the occasion. Thus the historic Delhi Durbar Tiara is back in the limelight again after a lapse almost 60 years. The tiara was however displayed on two occasions prior to this, once in June 1988, when it was part of an exhibition of Royal Jewelry at the auction house of Christie's, and again in 2001 at an exhibition of tiaras at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Please click here for photograph of the Delhi Durbar Tiara worn by the Duchess of Cornwall to the Norwegian Banquet  ( External Link).


2) The Cambridge Emerald Choker

The photograph of Queen Mary above show her wearing the Cambridge Emerald Choker, designed and crafted by Garrard & Co. as part of the Delhi Dunbar Parure. The original choker was set with 16 Cambridge emeralds matching the necklace and bracelet. However, in the 1920s at the request of Queen Mary, Garrards  remodeled the bracelet, into an Art Deco style piece using 14 emeralds and brilliant-cut diamonds set in platinum.

The Cambridge Emerald Choker,gifted to Princess Diana by Queen Elizabeth II for her wedding

© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The Art Deco Emerald Choker has as its centerpiece the largest oval-shaped cabochon emerald with three other large oval-shaped cabochon emeralds of equal size, spaced equally on either side. The smaller emeralds seven in all are placed in-between two large emeralds somewhere in the center. Thus there are seven larger emeralds and seven smaller emeralds placed symmetrically on the choker, making a total of 14 emeralds. Each large emerald is surrounded by an octagonal shaped single layer of round brilliant-cut white diamonds. The area in-between the octagonal-shaped areas are rectangular, with the small emerald flanked by two smaller diamonds at the center, and a double layer of small rounded brilliant-cut emeralds on either side.

The Cambridge Emerald Choker, the Lover's Knot Tiara and some other valuable pieces of jewelry were given as gifts to Princess Diana at the time of her marriage to Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and Heir to the British throne. Princess Diana initially wore the Cambridge Emerald Choker for the purpose it was designed for, but later she wore the choker as a bandeau across her forehead, as she was seen doing at a charity event in Melbourne, Australia, in 1984, and again in 1988 at a formal event also in Australia, at which she appeared dressed in a dark green gown. Please click here to view photographs of Diana wearing different types of jewelry on different occasions, including the Cambridge emerald choker as a bandeau (External Link.

Princess Diana was allowed to keep the jewels given by the Queen after her divorce, on condition that they could not be lent or sold. However, after her death the jewels were returned to the Queen.


3) The Cambridge Emerald Earrings

The photograph above also show Queen Mary wearing the Cambridge emerald earrings. Each of the earrings is set with a single large cabochon emerald surrounded by a row of small rounded brilliant-cut diamonds. Queen Elizabeth II, whose favorite piece is the Delhi Durbar Necklace, usually wears the necklace with the matching Cambridge emerald earrings, as most of the photographs depicting the Queen on different occasions reveal.


4) The Delhi Durbar Necklace

The Delhi Durbar Necklace was a gift by the Maharanis of India, the consorts of the Maharajahs, including the Maharani of Patiala, to Queen Mary, when she visited India  in 1911 with her husband, King George V, to attend the Durbar organized in Delhi, for the proclamation of King George V and Queen Mary as the Emperor and Empress of India. The necklace consisted of eight large cabochon emeralds surrounded by diamonds, set in two chains of small diamonds, with a single big diamond between each emerald. Emeralds of similar size and shape are placed in symmetrical positions on the necklace. Originally a removable pendant with a pear-shaped emerald was attached to the cushion-shaped emerald centerpiece of the necklace. Subsequently Queen Mary herself added a marquise-cut 11.5-carat diamond, the Cullinan VI to the pendant, the two stones hanging in a neglige pendant of unequal length.

The Delhi Durbar Necklace

© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In the photograph above, Queen Mary is seen wearing the Delhi Durbar Necklace just below three diamond collet necklaces. After Queen Elizabeth II inherited the Delhi Durbar Parure from Queen Mary, after her death in 1953, the Delhi Durbar Necklace became her favorite piece of Jewelry and she had been seen wearing this necklace on many occasions, including two recent occasions when she met  Nelson Mandela of South Africa and King Juan Carlos of Spain. Please click here to view these photographs( External Link).


5) The Delhi Durbar Brooch

Together with the Delhi Durbar Necklace that was gifted to Queen Mary during the Delhi Durbar of 1911, by the Maharanis of India, an engraved hexagonal emerald brooch was also part of this gift. In the Photograph above, Queen Mary is seen wearing the brooch attached just below her right shoulders. The large hexagonal emerald is engraved with a rose flower pattern in the front, and a foliage pattern on the reverse, and the emerald is surrounded by a layer of round brilliant-cut diamonds, with four large round brilliant-cut diamonds placed at four points outside the surrounding layer of diamonds, corresponding to the vertical and horizontal axes of the hexagon. The hexagonal emerald brooch was inherited by Queen Elizabeth II, but she has never been seen wearing the brooch on any occasion.


6) The Cambridge Emerald Stomacher

 A stomacher is a decorated triangular panel that fills in the front opening of a woman's gown or bodice. A decorative piece of jewelry fixed to the stomacher was also known as a stomacher. In the photograph Queen Mary is seen wearing the Cambridge Emerald Stomacher, fixed to the triangular stomacher of her dress. It consists of six large cabochon-cut emeralds placed in the form of a floral pattern, with diamonds also incorporated. The emeralds seem to be surrounded by small round brilliant-cut diamonds, and the center of the stomacher seems to be occupied by a large pear-shaped diamond.


History of the Cambridge Emeralds

The story of the Cambridge Emeralds goes back to the early 19th century, when King George III's seventh son Adolphus, the Duke of Cambridge got married to Princess Augusta of Hesse, in 1818. The newly wedded couple visited Germany for their honeymoon, and happened to visit Frankfurt, where coincidentally a lottery was being held to raise funds for a charitable cause. Prince Adolphus and Princess Augusta purchased a lottery ticket, with a view of helping a worthy cause, but to their utter amazement it so happened that the Princess became the lucky winner of the prize box of 40 large emeralds, that was offered as the top prize of the lottery. The lucky couple reached England after the honeymoon, and the Princess then went about getting her newly acquired emeralds set in different pieces of jewelry such as necklaces, earrings, pendants etc.

After the death of Princess Augusta, the Duchess of Cambridge, the emerald-studded pieces of jewelry and any unset emeralds were inherited by her youngest daughter, Princess Mary Adelaide, the Duchess of Teck, who is said to have incorporated some emeralds into a stomacher that she had previously bought from Garrards.

The Duchess of Teck died without leaving a will, and her jewelry was eventually divided among her four children. It so happened that all the emeralds were removed from their settings and given to one child, who happen to be her second son, Francis. One of the four children of Princess Mary Adelaide was Queen Mary, the queen consort of King George V. She too received her share of her mother's jewelry.

Francis who inherited all the emeralds gave them to his mistress, and he died suddenly at the age of 40. Following his death, Queen Mary sent an emissary to Francis' mistress, with a strong warning note and demanding the return of the emeralds. She obliged, and the emeralds originally owned by the Duchess of Cambridge thus came into Queen Mary's possession. and the collection of emeralds came to be known as the Cambridge Emeralds.

When King George V ascended the British Throne after the death of his father King Edward VII on May 6, 1910, he also inherited the Cullinan Diamonds consisting of six large and 96 smaller satellite diamonds, which were originally presented as a rough diamond weighing 3,106 carats (which incidentally remains as the largest rough diamond ever discovered), to King Edward VII, by the Transvaal Government to mark the occasion of his 66th birthday, that fell on November 9, 1907. Thus, besides the Cambridge emeralds, Queen Mary also had a wide range of diamonds of different sizes, cuts and shapes, from which she could choose, in preparing a set of jewelry for her coronation on June 22, 1911, and for her proclamation as Empress of India, at a Durbar to be held on December 12, 1911. It was finally left to the artisans of Garrard & Co, the Crown Jewelers, to employ their skills and experience gained over the years, in fashioning one of the most exquisite suite of jewelry ever created in the history of the British Monarchy, that came to be known as the Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure.


Related :-

1) The Cullinan Diamonds

2) Duke of Devonshire Emerald

3) Emerald Necklaces of the Maharajah of Nawanagar

4) Tiaras of the Iranian Crown Jewels



1.Parure - From Wikipedia,  the free encylopedia.  
2.From Satan's Crown to Holy Grail - Diane Morgan  
3.Imperial Crown of India - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia'
4.International Art Treasures Web Magazine - July 2006  
5.Royal Insight - November 2005, 
6.Priceless tiara fit for a queen - - 26, October 2005.
7.Royal Jewels of the World -   
8.Diana's Tiaras -   
9.The Diana Ring - www.

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Dr Shihaan Larif
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