How Much the British Crown Jewels Are Actually Worth
Queen Elizabeth II, as the head of the British state and sovereign, also acts as the head of the monarch, or The Crown. The Crown owns a great deal of property, including The Crown Jewels, a collection of crowns, rings, scepters, vestments, and more, which often garner the most attention.
St. Edward’s Crown
One of the most widely-viewed pieces in the Crown Jewels is St. Edward’s Crown, which has 444 stones, both precious and semi-precious. The nearly five pounds of gold used to construct the crown is today worth more than $100,000, while the collection of stones in the precious metal likely place the value of this crown around $39 million.
Her Majesty only wore the St. Edward’s Crown for a few moments. At five pounds, the crown is quite heavy and cumbersome. “You can’t look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up,” Queen Elizabeth told Smithsonian Channel. “Because if you did, your neck would break and it [the crown] would fall off,” she says. Don’t miss these surprisingly frugal spending habits of the British royal family.
The Jewelled Sword of Offering
Created in 1820, the Jewelled Sword of Offering is not as old as some pieces in the Crown Jewels. King George IV helped design the sword and paid for it at a cost of nearly £6,000 or about $660 million in today’s money.
The Crown Jewels of the British Monarch
Officially, the Crown Jewels are priceless. They are not insured either, which means they’ve likely never been appraised. However, estimates put the entire collection at $4 billion.
At her coronation on June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth wore both the St. Edward’s Crown and the Imperial State Crown. She carried the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and the Sovereign’s Orb. Her father, King George VI, also wore the Imperial State Crown at his coronation in 1937. It was the last time so many of the Crown Jewels were seen and used at the same time.
Mary Modena’s Crown of State
Originally commissioned as a crown for Mary of Modena, consort of King James II, for his coronation in 1685, this Crown of State was made with an array of large diamonds. At the time the crown was made, the value of the diamonds was estimated at £100,650, or about $21 million today.
However, since the crown was last used by Queen Caroline in 1727, the diamonds were replaced with rock crystals.
Cullinan I Diamond
The government of the Transvaal in South Africa gifted a spectacular African diamond of more than 3,000 carats to King Edward VII as a birthday gift in 1905. Jewelry Asscher and Co. in Amsterdam cut the magnificent diamond into nine large stones and almost one hundred smaller brilliants.
Today, the nine larger diamonds, collectively known as the Cullinan Diamonds, are used in a variety of pieces in the Crown Jewels. Two stones are part of the Crown Jewels; the remaining seven are part of the Queen’s personal collection.
Cullinan I, which is 530.2 carats and remains the world’s largest top-quality white cut diamond, was placed in the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross in 1910 for George V. The scepter had been used at every coronation since Charles II’s in 1661. The Cullinan I alone is estimated to be worth $525 million. The scepter would likely be worth many millions more. Besides million-dollar diamonds, check out these bizarre perks of the royal family.
Charles I had to replace many Crown Jewels after Oliver Cromwell had them destroyed in the mid-1600s. After returning to power, King Charles paid a silversmith £1,122 to make a replica of an altar dish that had been in the original Crown Jewels. In today’s currency, the king would have paid nearly $275,000. Find out how much each member of the royal family is actually worth.
The Sovereign’s Orb
The Sovereign’s Orb, which dates to 1661, is a hollow gold sphere with a band of emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. During the coronation, the sovereign holds the orb, a symbol of the Christian world and the sovereign’s power, in their right hand.
When Charles I had the orb made in 1661, he spent £1,150. In today’s money, that’s near $200,000. However, the orb itself would be valued much higher because of its significance, history, and stones. Now that you know some interesting history behind the Crown Jewels, learn about these royal ceremonies and traditions you might not know about.
- Smithsonian Magazine: “Sixty-Five Years Later, the Queen Recalls Her Coronation”
- Money Metals: “Price of Gold Per Ounce Live & Historical Charts”
- Iglobal Legacy: “The Most Expensive Crowns in Royal History”
- Royal Collection Trust: “The Jewelled Sword of Offering”
- Money: “All the Members of the British Royal Family, Ranked by Net Worth”
- Royal Collection Trust: “Mary of Modena’s Crown of State”
- Royal Collection Trust: “THE CULLINAN DIAMOND”
- Tower of London: “The Crown Jewels”
- Mirror: “How much are the Crown Jewels worth? Everything you need to know about Britain’s most valuable royal treasures”