Queen's 10,000 diamonds on display in London

Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:21pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - More than 10,000 diamonds go on show at London's Buckingham Palace this week to mark Queen Elizabeth's 60th year on the throne, in a dazzling display of gems gathered over the centuries as objects of beauty and symbols of power.

The exhibition, which runs from June 30 to July 8 and then from July 31 to October 7, was designed to coincide with the queen's diamond jubilee this year, and features jewels she wears regularly at official functions in Britain and abroad.

"The aim of the exhibition is to show how rulers have used diamonds as visible signs of wealth and power," said curator Caroline de Guitaut, who described the crowns, tiaras, rings, earrings, swords and snuff box on display as "priceless."

De Guitaut said the 86-year-old monarch was consulted on what would be used for the exhibition, housed in a darkened room inside Buckingham Palace and accessed via gilded, colonnaded corridors lined with royal portraits going back generations.

"We have tried to showcase some of the most important diamonds in royal possession."

The first item on show in a brightly lit glass case is Queen Victoria's small diamond crown which, despite its size, features more than 1,100 diamonds.

After her husband Prince Albert's death in 1861, the only other British monarch to have marked a diamond jubilee wore only mourning clothes, meaning that colorless stones such as clear diamonds were an ideal adornment.

Victoria was regularly pictured wearing it, including in her official diamond jubilee portrait.   Continued...

Exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut poses with the Cullinan III and IV brooch at the Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace, London May 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth