THE Crown Jewels are a collection of Britain's most precious rare treasures.
Many pieces of the Crown Jewels are kept locked away, such as the purple Imperial State Crown, which is only worn by monarchs on their Coronation and other important occasions.
How much are the Crown Jewels worth?
One common misconception is that the Crown Jewels refers only to a few crowns in possession of the Royal family.
However, the term is actually used to describe the collection of more than 100 ceremonial objects which boast a spectacular 23,578 precious gemstones, like sapphires, emeralds and rubies as well as lesser known gems such as amethysts, garnets, peridots and aquamarines.
It includes the Imperial State Crown, sceptres, orbs, swords, rings, and other regalia.
And at the heart of the collection are the Coronation Regalia – the "the sacred objects used during the coronation ceremony."
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There are strict rules surrounding the Crown Jewels and only three people in the world are allowed to touch the Imperial State Crown – the current monarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Crown Jeweller.
Part of the wider Royal Collection, the jewels represent over 800 years of rich Royal history.
The crown jewels are not insured against loss and are unlikely to ever be sold.
They jewels are officially priceless but estimated to be worth anywhere between £1billion to £5billion.
How much is the Imperial State Crown worth?
The most iconic piece in the Crown Jewels collection is the Imperial State Crown.
For many of the late Queen's formal occasions, such as the Opening of Parliament, she wore the striking Imperial State Crown, which is made from gold and set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls, and 4 rubies.
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Although in 2021 and 2019, Her Majesty wore the State Diadem (another Crown Jewel), while the heavy crown was instead carried beside her.
Some of these stones are so impressive they are known in their own right – the most famous are St Edward's Sapphire, the Black Prince Ruby (although Samuel Mee says it's actually a large, irregular cabochon red spinel), the Cullinan II diamond and the Stuart Sapphire.
It measures 31.5cm (12.4 in) and weighs 2.2lbs (1kg), and the late Queen previously revealed it is so heavy that she wasn't able to look down in her speeches.
She once previously said: “You can’t look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up.
“Because if you did, your neck would break and it would fall off."
There is no official record of how much the Imperial State Crown is worth by itself. But according to Sam Mee, some experts have estimated its worth at up to an astonishing £5 billion, with the Cullinan II valued at around £400 million. "It's a moot point, though," says Mee, "as the crown will never be broken up or sold. 'Selling the crown jewels' is not something that will ever literally happen."
Who owns the Crown Jewels?
The Crown Jewels are still in use by the Royal family during formal ceremonies.
However, unlike other royal assets, the Crown Jewels are not owned by the state.
They are instead the right of the Crown, meaning the monarch – in this case King Charles III.
The ownership passes from one Monarch to the next and they are maintained by the Crown Jeweller, who is appointed by the Sovereign.
The Crown Jeweller is a member of the Royal Household and cleans the precious objects at the Tower of London every January after visiting hours are over.
Some of the older more fragile items, like the Coronation Spoon, are cleaned by experts at the British Museum.
What is the Cullinan Diamond?
The Cullinan Diamond was discovered in Transvaal, South Africa back in 1905 and was then presented as a birthday gift to Edward VII of England (r. 1901-1910) by the Transvaal Government.
Weighing well over 3,000 carats, this is the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found.
After its discovery, the gem was cut into nine large gemstones, the biggest of which, named the Star of Africa, now sparkles in the royal sceptre of the British Crown Jewels.
According to World History, the second largest stone has been set into the Imperial State Crown – which is worn at coronations of British monarch.
Where are the Crown Jewels kept?
Even though the jewels are owned by the Monarch, they are not kept at Buckingham Palace or any other Royal residence.
Instead, the Crown Jewels are kept safe and sound at the Tower of London and you can even visit them.
Protected by armed guards, the Jewel House stores and displays the collection between June and September each year.
Historically, the Crown Jewels have not always been so heavily guarded.
During World War II, George VI ordered the priceless gems to be hidden in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
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What was unusual is that they were hidden in a biscuit tin – a tactic taken in case the Nazis were to invade.
The secret was so closely guarded that even the Queen reportedly wasn't told the information until later in her life.
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