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THE CROWN JEWELS: The Official Illustrated History by Anna Keay

Posted on January 29th, 2012 by in Art and Antiques

THE CROWN JEWELS: The Official Illustrated History by Anna Keay showcases what must surely be the most famous collection of jewellery anywhere in the world today.

Anyone who views the Sherlock Series Two adventure series on TV will be familiar with the Crown Jewels of England, as part of the solution for the Final Problem being worked out by his arch nemesis Moriarty, who breaks into the Tower of London and threatens their security. The crown jewels have always attracted notoriety and inventive minds have longed to steal them. But safe and secure they are, surrounded by Yeomen Warders (Beefeaters) who guard them with their lives. The jewels are ceremonial and symbolic objects, the oldest piece surviving since the 12th century. It is the gold anointing spoon, which delivers the holy oil to anoint the new monarch. St Edward’s Crown is the centerpiece of all the ‘regalia’ used to crown the sovereign during the coronation ceremony. It is made of gold and decorated with precious and semi precious stones, including sapphires, tourmalines, amethysts, topazes and citrines. Among the famous gem-stones on display at the Tower is the First Star of Africa, now mounted at the top of the Sovereign’s Sceptre. This is the largest flawless cut diamond in the world and weighs 530 carats. This and the Second Star of Africa of 317 carats (in the Imperial State Crown) were cut from the celebrated Cullinan Diamond, the largest diamond ever found. Weighing over 3,000 carats, the Cullinan was given to King Edward VII by the Government of the Transvaal (South Africa) in 1907. The legendary Koh-i-Nur (‘Mountain of Light’) diamond, presented to Queen Victoria in 1850, is now set in the platinum crown made for the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother for the 1937 coronation. This diamond, which came from the Treasury at Lahore in the Punjab, may have belonged to the early Mughal emperors before passing eventually to Duleep Singh. It was re-cut for Queen Victoria in 1852 and now weighs 106 carats. Traditionally the Koh-i-Nur is only worn by a queen or queen consort: it is said to bring bad luck to any man who wears it.

About the Author
Anna Keay was a curator at the Tower of London and now works at English Heritage. Her books include The Magnificent Monarch and The Elizabethan Tower of London.

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