The Wattle Brooch – fit for a Queen
In 1954 Queen Elizabeth made her Coronation Tour of Australia. To celebrate the visit it was decided to present her with a very special gift – something uniquely Australian. And what better choice could there be than the country’s native flora represented in a spray of precious gems.
The prestigious commission went to the Melbourne jeweller William Drummond & Co.Ltd.
It was a large piece, 9 centimetres long and 4.5 cm wide, and could be worn either way up. Besides the golden wattle, there were two stunning tea-tree flowers. In all, it was comprised of 150 diamonds: golden for the wattle, and 5 carats blue-white for the tea-tree flowers. Baguette diamonds formed the foliage.
The intrinsic value of the piece was estimated at £25,000 but, of course, in reality, it is absolutely priceless.
Needless to say, what we have is only a replica – but still a very attractive object.
A Secret Hiding Spot for the Wattle Brooch
Several months after the Queen’s visit an intriguing piece was published in the Brisbane Telegraph. It revealed how the brooch made its way from the Melbourne jeweller to the Prime Minister in Canberra. Two days before the presentation at a state banquet, a trusted courier was ushered into Mr. Menzies’ suite. He removed his coat, cut the lining out, and withdrew the carefully hidden treasure.