When considering all of the jewelry-loving members of the House of Windsor both past and present, Wallis Simpson may stand out in the category of heart-shaped gems. It’s not surprising: after all, it was the love shared between the American divorcée and Edward VIII that defined the course of their lives, from his abdicating the throne in 1936 to the couple essentially going on to live in a state of gilded exile until his death in 1972 (and hers in 1986). Throughout their time together the Duke of Windsor famously showered his beloved with a treasure chest of jewels so brilliant and dazzling they came to be known as the “alternative Crown Jewels.” There were enough Cartier pieces to fill the flagship, among them a diamond- and ruby-encrusted heart-shaped brooch the duke commissioned for their 20th anniversary, having W.E.—for Wallis & Edward—engraved on it in emeralds. There was also a magnificent amethyst, diamond, and turquoise bib necklace, seen below, that was anchored in its center by a giant, glowing heart.
Going farther back in history we have Queen Victoria, a noted sentimentalist when it came to her bijoux, so much so she even took a few of her favorite pieces to the grave. During her lifetime, she turned mourning jewelry into a fashion statement by trading its macabre motifs for romantic symbols like hearts, crosses, cherubs, and flowers. She was also fond of filling gems with the strands of loved ones’ hair, which is what she did with the nine enamel heart lockets (one for each child) that adorned a gold chain bracelet, a gift from her husband Prince Albert.
In the modern era, judging from the few but notable heart-shaped baubles that are part of the collections of Queen Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, et al, the romance is still very much alive. From the legendary Cullinan brooch to the Duchess of Cambridge’s dainty earrings, below are 16 photos of the royals in heart-shaped jewelry.
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The Cullinan V, likely the most valuable heart-shaped gem in the Windsor vaults, is part of the legendary Cullinans, a suite of 9 brilliant stones cut from the largest diamond ever found (the rock weighed 3,106 carats when it was unearthed from a South Africa mine in 1905). The colossal Cullinans I & II were incorporated into the Crown Jewels, while the rest eventually made their way into the hands of—who else?—Queen Mary. In 1911, she commissioned a brooch to anchor the 18.8-carat heart-shaped Cullinan V—since inheriting her grandmother’s jewels Queen Elizabeth (pictured here in 1990) has worn the piece for several special occasions.
Queen Elizabeth at the Epsom Derby in 1961.
Queen Mary, OG jewelry collector of the royal family, never shied away from a show-stopping display of magnificent gems. Here, she incorporated the Cullinan III & IV diamonds into her Delhi Durbar Tiara, with the Cullinan V pinned to her dress in between the Cullinan VIII brooch above it and the Cullinan VI diamond attached as a pendant below.
More: Queen Mary’s Most Iconic Tiara Moments
In another portrait, Queen Mary centered her emerald-laced Delhi Durbar stomacher with the Cullinan V brooch.
For a 2017 engagement that took place on Valentine’s Day, the Duchess of Cambridge went for a themed look in a red blazer by Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini topped off with a pair of delicate heart-shaped diamond and gold earrings by Kiki McDonough, one of her favorite designers.
More: Kate Middleton’s Greatest Style Moments
A closer look at Kate Middleton’s diamond heart earrings, 2017.
A throwback from 2005: The future duchess attended the Gatcombe Horse Trials in a teal heart pendant by Lola Rose.
For the premiere of Skyfall in 2012, the Duchess of Cornwall borrowed this amethyst, diamond, and pearl sautoir necklace featuring a large heart-shaped amethyst as its centerpiece. The heirloom can be traced back to 1923: When Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the future Queen Mother) was engaged to be married to Prince Albert, Duke of York (the future King George VI), Queen Alexandra gifted this to her new granddaughter-in-law with a handwritten note: “For my dear future grand daughter Elisabeth from her affte [affectionate] Grand Mother.”
More: 19 Photos of the Royals in Amethysts
For one of her official events during the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s 2018 Pacific tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga, and New Zealand, Meghan Markle wore a small diamond pavé heart necklace by Los Angeles designer Adina Reyter. Good news: it’s still available to purchase.
To celebrate the birth of Prince William in 1982, Prince Charles gave Princess Diana a heart-shaped diamond and pearl necklace, which she debuted for their newborn’s christening.
More: Princess Diana’s Most Beautiful Jewelry
Diana wore the necklace on a number of occasions and overseas trips. For the couple’s royal tour of Canada in 1983, she brought along the romantic gift.
For a banquet during the same official visit to Canada in the summer of 1983, Princess Diana paired her heart-shaped necklace with the Lover’s Knot Tiara. By the second half of the ’80s, as their marriage began to irretrievably break down, she had stopped wearing this necklace (along with other gifts from Charles)—it hasn’t been seen since.
More: The History of the Lover’s Knot Tiara
Among the many highlights of Wallis Simpson’s formidable jewelry collection was this extravagant turquoise, amethyst, and diamond necklace with a heart-shaped amethyst in its center, made for the duchess by Cartier in 1947, with amethysts that had each been hand-picked by the Duke of Windsor. Here, they were photographed dancing at the Patio Club in Palm Beach in 1957.
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