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All The Queen’s Pearls: The Fascinating History Behind Queen Elizabeth II’s Favorite Jewels — Shop Now

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Sep. 27 2022, Published 6:21 p.m. ET

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Nearly as iconic as the late Queen Elizabeth II’s impressive collection of crowns and brightly-colored matching sets was Her Majesty’s pearl necklaces, a precious addition to nearly every outfit the ruler sported throughout her record-breaking 70-year reign.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II'S BEST FASHION MOMENTS — SHOP NOW

Yet it seems the Queen enjoyed her pearls for more than just the classy yet understated elegance they added to her looks. Beyond their beauty, her signature accessory carried both historical significance and sentimental value.

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“Pearls are traditional for Queens going back one thousand years — there has never been a Queen who didn’t wear pearls,” Leslie Field, who penned the 1987 book "The Queen’s Jewels," explained back in 2020.

“They were rare, beautiful and lustrous,” she continued, “and the more you wear them, the more lustrous they become.”

Despite the long-running nature of this royal jewelry tradition, pearls became commonplace in the British Royal Family amid the reign of Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 to her death in 1901.

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During her time on the throne, the monarch often gifted the young women in her life with the precious gemstones, making the acquiring of a full strand of pearls a rite of passage.

“She gave each of her daughters and granddaughters a pearl every year on their birthday,” Field explained. “By the time they came of age at 18, they would have enough pearls for a necklace.”

This add-a-pearl tradition continued well beyond the ruler’s death in the early 20th century, with Queen Elizabeth II’s parents hopping on the trend as well, offering their young daughter two pearls for each birthday.

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Aside from the gem’s personal significance to the late Queen — the ruler received a pearl necklace in honor of her 1937 coronation and sported the precious material to her 1947 nuptials to Prince Philip — their practicality and versatility for daytime events also contributed to their allure.

“It’s the necklace that she feels is appropriate,” said Field, adding that the ruler wanted “to wear pearls every day as her mother and grandmother did before her.”

“She wouldn’t wear a diamond necklace to go to a charity lunch — it is simply traditional that a lady would wear pearls during the day,” the author continued.

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Though the ruler had a series of strands to choose from, ranging from classic one-strand accessories to dramatic six-strand offerings, the late royal most frequently sported a three-strand necklace.

QUEEN ELIZABETH'S JEWELS LIKELY TO BE INHERITED BY KATE MIDDLETON, CAMILLA & MEGHAN MARKLE TO BE SNUBBED

Love the Queen’s pearls? Keep scrolling for several modern strands inspired by the beloved ruler’s iconic looks.

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Queen Elizabeth II

Blue Nile’s Three-Strand Baroque Freshwater Cultured Pearl Necklace retails for $325 at bluenile.com.

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Kenneth Jay Lane’s Deco 3-Row Pearly Necklace retails for $150 at neimanmarcus.com.

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Devon Leigh’s Freshwater Pearl Multi-Strand Necklace retails for $780 at neimanmarcus.com.

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Blue Nile’s Freshwater Cultured Pearl Strand Necklace retails starting at $300 at bluenile.com.

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