The Stuart Sapphire

Photo © HMSO, London

The early history of the Stuart Sapphire is somewhat obscure, although it most probably belonged to Charles II, and was definitely among the jewels which James II took with him when he fled to France. From him it passed to his son, Charles Edward, the 'Old Pretender', who gave it to his son Henry Bentinck, who later became known as Cardinal York. As the Stuart cause was then dead, he left the sapphire with other Stuart relics to King George III. The stone weighs about 104 carats.

The stone was set in Queen Victoria's State Crown, on the front just below the Black Prince’s Ruby. A new crown was made in 1937, nearly identical to Queen Victoria's old one, which had become weak and needed replacing. The stones from the old crown were transfered to the new. The new and present Imperial State Crown features the Cullinan II Diamond on the front, beneath the Black Prince's Ruby, where the Stuart Sapphire was originally mounted. The sapphire is on the reverse side of the crown.

Photo © HMSO, London
A view of the backside of the Imperial State Crown, with the Stuart Sapphire.

The Stuart Sapphire has more historical than monetary value. Even though it is a fine blue color, it contains one or two flaws and is drilled at one end, probably so that it could be worn as a pendant, as was common in earlier times (see the Shah Jahan Tablecut Diamond.) It is oval in shape, about 1½ inches in length by 1 inch in width, and is set in a gold brooch, visible in the photos.