The Emerald 'Empress of India'


Queen Elizabeth II, has worn on countless occasions, the Cambridge Emeralds, a necklace consisting of eight Colombian emeralds weighing over 300 carats total and valued at over $38 million Euros! These emeralds were a gift to Queen Victoria in 1877 from the princely kingdom of Patiala, in northern India.

The history of these stunning emeralds

After a century of rule by the British East India Company, civil unrest in India ushered in British colonial rule of India from “The Company.” The princely kingdoms of India presented an affinity to “rule” with the British.

This consolidation of the old royal structures led to grand, stately events and magnificent displays of wealth. Even though actual power was not in their hands, and their wealth was depleted from its pre-British standards, the old royal families of India still came forward with astounding collections of gems and jewelry.

In 1877 Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India and the local princes responded wholeheartedly with lavish gifts of gems and jewelry to their new sovereign. On one royal tour of India, Prince Edward gifted snuff boxes and watches to the royals now in his dominion.  The Indian Princes responded with boxes and trunks full of gems and jewelry, prompting one newspaper in England to proclaim, “Conquered India Defeats the British with their Generosity.”

The Cambridge necklace came about as a result of a gift from the Maharaja and Maharanis of Patiala of 25 large emeralds. The goldsmiths at Gerrards of London assembled this necklace from some of the emeralds in this bequest from ‘The Ladies of India’. The necklace incorporated the Cullinan VII marquis diamond. The remaining emeralds formed brooches and pins.