Knowing a little more about various gemstones is very interesting, particularly when they have a history and story like The Stuart Sapphire and St Edward’s Sapphire. These have special historical interesting since they are both part of the Imperial State Crown, part of The Crown Jewels, which dates back to the fifteenth century. You may notice a lack of pictures but since they are The Crown Jewels, their use is restricted. There is a link at the bottom so you can view the official Royal photos.
What is the Stuart Sapphire?
The Stuart Sapphire is a large 104 carat blue sapphire. There is little or no documentation of the stone before 1214 and so we must speculate as to where the stone originated. Since it is known that Kashmir and Sri Lanka have been known to produce the highest quality of sapphire, we can presume that the stone originated in one of these locations, although this is speculation based on known stones discovered in each region. We do know that the stone is imperfect and a hole has been drilled at one point for it to be used as a pendant. This would of course be a major detraction from value for any stone in the market, however this stone is one of huge historical significance and will clearly not be in the market at any time.
The historical importance of the Stuart Sapphire
One of the two famous sapphires mounted on the world famous Imperial State Crown is that of the Stuart Sapphire, the oldest known sapphire in the world. It is thought to have belonged to King Alexander II of Scotland and set into his crown for his coronation in 1214. The stone has passed between many monarchs over history, sometimes taken during an invasion, as was the case in 1296 when it was taken by King Edward I of England, and sometimes returned, as happened when King Edward III returned it to David II of Scotland. The sapphire was even sold by Oliver Cromwell when he sold the crown jewels and was returned during the restoration to Charles II.
The stone is known to have belonged to other monarchs over time, such as James II, his son James Francis Edward Stuart who left it to his son, Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal Duke of York, and remained in his possession until 1807. The sapphire was later returned to the rightful heir, George III and passed to his daughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales upon declaration her father was declared unfit to reign. Sadly, the stone was returned to George III upon the death of Princess Charlotte, who died during childbirth.
Queen Victoria had the stone set into the imperial state crown in 1838 and at this time, it was set into the front below the Black Prince’s Ruby but was later moved to the rear of the new crown requisitioned by George VI.
What is the St Edward’s Sapphire?
This stone is said to be the oldest among the Crown Jewels. It is a blue, octagonal rose cut stone currently set in the cross of the Imperial State Crown. The stone is named after Edward The Confessor, who ruled England from 1042-1066. There is a tale attached to this stone that the King presented a special coronation ring, in which the stone was mounted, to a beggar in place of money. The beggar, unbeknown to the King, was said to be St John the Evangelist, who in return for the King’s kindness, helped two English pilgrims in Syria and had them return to England with the ring to return to Edward. The King wore this stone in the ring and he clearly treasured it since it was buried with him in his tomb in 1066, although the tomb was opened in the 12th Century and the ring removed. After a time on display, it was said the ring was returned to the state treasury and placed into the crown.
Using photographs of The Crown Jewels is very restricted and so you can view the official photographs through this link using the official source