Part of a very turbulent history and much thievery, the British Crown Jewels represent the regalia and vestments worn by the king or queen of the United Kingdom during a coronation ceremony and other state functions. In all, the collection includes crowns, orbs, swords, scepters, and other regalia.
Under British law, the originals of the crown jewels and implements of the State cannot leave England and are displayed in the Tower of London. Many of the objects descend directly from the pre-Reformation period and hold religious and sacral connotation.
Worn by monarchs at their coronation, the Imperial State Crown was made in 1937 for King George VI. The crown is set with jewels of great antiquity and historical significance. In all, the crown possesses 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and five rubies. The Imperial Crown of India was created when King George V visited Delhi as Emperor of India. As British law prohibits the removal of a Crown Jewel from the country to prevent pawning, a new crown was made. One of the heaviest crowns in the collection, the Imperial contains more than 6,000 diamonds.
After they were stolen from Westminster Abbey, the Crown Jewels have been kept in the Tower of London since 1303. It is believed that most, if not all, of the jewels were recovered not long after being found in display window of a London jeweler. During World War II, the jewels were taken out of the Tower and stored somewhere in secret. Stories suggest they may have been kept in the basement vaults of the Sun Life Insurance company in Montreal, Canada or in the Round Tower of Windsor Castle. It is more probable that they were housed at Windsor Castle since by law the Crown is not allowed to leave the country.
The dollar value of all the gold, silver, platinum, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and pearls in the royal collection make it beyond comparison. Added to the fact that the crowns and other artifacts have all been worn and used by kings and queens of England makes the collection absolutely priceless.