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Jewelry Makeovers

Royal Heirloom Makeovers, Rare Stones, and More

Only Natural Diamonds – June 26, 2024jewelry makeovers-Villarreal Fine Jewlers

How The British Royals Mastered

the Jewelry Makeover


A lesson from the royal’s playbook on transforming historic diamond jewelry into contemporary pieces.

What’s a royal event without megawatt glittering natural diamonds and jewels? It’s the dazzling diamond tiaras and crowns, and magnificent sparkling parures that delineate the royals from mere mortals and conjure up images of fairytales and princesses. Nobody defines that better than the British monarchs, who don their lavish jewels for every event, from state and ceremonial affairs to a day at Royal Ascot.

More than simply adornments, their jewelry choices are symbolic and strategic. The royals are all too aware of the power of appearances, so over the decades they have not just chosen their jewels wisely, but they refashioned and repurposed countless pieces to make them more contemporary and relevant for the times.

One of the Windsor’s most overlooked jewelry lovers was the late Queen Elizabeth II, who when she died in 2022 was Great Britain’s longest serving and beloved monarch. She didn’t just acquire fabulous jewelry; she also wasn’t shy about taking apart the most sentimental pieces (including two wedding gifts) to create jewelry that better suited her style.


To be fair, Queen Elizabeth did inherit some of the world’s most amazing diamonds and gemstones, so she had a good foundation. She also purchased jewelry at auctions and commissioned and restyled pieces. It’s a tradition that started with her jewelry obsessed grandmother, Queen Mary, who reigned from 1910 to 1936, and the trend continues today.

“We always talk about Queen Mary, and we tend to forget that one of the most interesting collectors in that family was Queen Elizabeth II,” said renowned French historian and author Vincent Meylan, who is an expert on royal jewelry. Some people said she was practical about her jewelry choices, says Meylan, who disagrees with that theory. “She was rather inventive with jewelry.”

Jewelry Makeovers-Queen Elizabeth-Villarreal Fine Jewelers

She didn’t hesitate to refashion heirlooms or pluck the diamonds from one tiara to use in another newly commissioned piece. For example, Meylan points out, on her 21st birthday, when the princess was on a royal visit to Cape Town with her family, she was given a necklace with 21 graduated diamonds, the largest being a 10 carat stone, by South Africa’s prime minister. Apparently, she didn’t care for long necklaces, so she had it shortened and used the extra stones to make a matching bracelet with the addition of a 6 carat diamond given to her by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, the chairman of De Beers, for her birthday in 1947.

Over the years, the late monarch modified numerous pieces to suit her style, including an antique diamond and sapphire necklace that her father, King George VI, gifted her on her wedding day. She shortened the necklace, used the extra stone to add a removable pendant, and commissioned a matching bracelet, and wore the set often. Known for her colorful attire with coordinating shoes, handbags, and hats, she also made sure she had matching jewels for every outfit. That’s why in the ‘60s she purchased an antique diamond and sapphire necklace that had once belonged to Princess Louise of Belgium, and she used the natural stones to make a tiara. In the ‘70s she commissioned the British jeweler Garrard to make a tiara using diamonds from a dismantled floral tiara and rubies that were a wedding gift from the people of Burma.

Jewelry Makeovers-Diana Princess of Whales-Villarreal Fine Jewelers

The tradition has been passed down to the next generation of Windsor women, whose styles are obviously more toned down. Catherine, Princess of Wales repurposed Diana’s sapphire suite into more everyday jewelry. She removed the drops from the diamond and sapphire earrings and used one of them to create a pendant necklace. The newly refashioned set matches her Garrard sapphire engagement ring that also belonged to her late mother-in-law.

Even Prince Harry plucked two diamonds from his mother’s precious brooch to create Meghan Markle’s engagement ring (which was already redesigned since the wedding).

Rather than keep a cherished piece stashed away in a jewelry box, isn’t it better to repurpose the stones and wear them all the time? It’s not just a thrifty solution, but it delivers both style and sentimental value.

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