Burmese Ruby Tiara—the touching reason the Queen had it made, and why there’s precisely 96 rubies

The Burmese Ruby Tiara was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth II, but it isn’t without controversy

The Burmese Ruby Tiara was a personal commission of Her Majesty
(Image credit: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

From the sentimental reason for its creation to the symbolism behind the gemstones used, the Burmese Ruby Tiara is a fascinating addition to the royal jewelry collection.

  • The Queen personally commissioned the creation of the Burmese Ruby Tiara using gemstones presented to her as a wedding present.
  • The 96 rubies used in the crown were given by the Burmese people, who believe that the rubies protect from the different illnesses that can affect a body.
  • In other royal news, how Princess Charlotte takes after the Queen with this hobby.

From the “cursed” strawberry leaf tiara to the Nizam of Hyderabad, a necklace preferred by Kate Middleton, often, the pieces of jewelry in the royal archives are even better to read about than to look at. This is because many pieces have a fascinating, complex and unforgettable history attached to them, and one such piece is the Burmese Ruby Tiara.

Her Majesty has worn the tiara on many occasions, including during a visit from Donald Trump during his term in office.

The symbolism behind the tiara could have been Her Majesty’s way of sending a subtle message. Let’s find out why, and what other tiara had to be dismantled to make the Burmese Ruby.

Who made the Burmese Ruby Tiara?

The Burmese Ruby Tiara was a personal commission made by Queen Elizabeth II, and she turned to the House of Garrard to execute her vision.

The House of Garrard was the first-ever Crown Jeweller, appointed to the position by Queen Victoria in 1843. Since then, the House of Garrard has kept a close tie with the British Crown, creating some of the most exquisite pieces for official occasions, as well as being called on to make elegant personal gifts and sentimental touches.

The Queen made the tiara out of rubies and diamonds

(Image credit: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

The House of Garrard received the commission to create the Burmese Ruby Tiara in 1973, from the Queen herself. Her Majesty wanted to create something using the gems she received as a wedding present for her marriage to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 20 November 1947.

Why did the Queen have the tiara made?

The Queen decided to have a new tiara made from gems given to her for a surprisingly lovely reason which involves her mother.

When Her Majesty succeeded the throne in 1953, by precedent, she should have inherited every piece of jewelry designated as heirlooms of the crown—this includes all pieces commissioned and owned by previous monarchs and their spouses.

The Oriental Circlet on display. This was a favorite piece of the Queen Mother, and the reason why the Queen commissioned a new ruby tiara

(Image credit: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Therefore, she should’ve inherited the Oriental Circlet, a stunning tiara originally made for Queen Victoria and later reset with rubies by Queen Alexandra. However, she didn’t… by choice.

The circlet was a personal favorite of the Queen Mother. Having recently lost her husband and watching her daughter ascend to the throne knowing they all had decades of royal duties ahead, one can only speculate, but it would appear the new Queen allowed her mother to keep hold of the tiara she was so fond of.

This tiara, and some of the other pieces that the Queen Mother kept, remained with her for the rest of her life.

What is the Burmese Ruby Tiara made from?

So, knowing that she had given away one of the only ruby tiaras in the collection, the Queen wanted to make a new one. Luckily, she was presented with a selection of rubies from the people of Burma for her wedding.

The Queen wore the tiara - designed to protect from ills - when meeting Donald Trump

(Image credit: Dominic Lipinski- WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Taking these rubies—96, to be precise—and combining them with a selection of diamonds, the Queen commissioned what we now call the Burmese Ruby Tiara.

Controversially for some, to make the tiara, the Queen had to dismantle another tiara, the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Gifted by the Nizam, an Indian monarch, the Queen was told to go to Cartier and pick any pieces she wanted. She chose a diamond tiara with detachable sections that could be worn as brooches. After wearing the tiara during the early years of her reign, eventually, she had it dismantled.

The diamonds were used to make the Burmese Ruby tiara, and the detachable sections were kept, still worn today as brooches and part of a necklace.

Why 96 rubies?

Why not an even 100? Well, it turns out 96 was deliberate. Rubies, as with many other gemstones, are thought by some cultures to have powers.

The Burmese people believed that there are 96 illnesses which could hit one’s body, so the 96 rubies were a heartwarming gesture of love and protection for the Queen and her health.

Considering Her Majesty is celebrating a historic Platinum Jubilee in 2022, perhaps those 96 rubies really worked!

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.