Mirror of Great Britain

James I and VI wearing the Mirror of Great Britain on his hat, 1604

The Mirror of Great Britain was a piece of jewellery that was part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom during the reign of James I of England and VI of Scotland.

The jewel was created around 1604 to mark James's Union of the Crowns of England and Scotland. It was created in gold with five main stones set into it: four diamonds and a ruby. The ruby and one of the diamonds were table-cut, while two further diamonds were lozenges. One of them was known as the "Stone of the letter H of Scotland" or the "Great Harry" and had belonged to James's mother, Mary, Queen of Scots. The final diamond was the Sancy Diamond which is believed to have been previously owned by the Burgundian crown. The jewel was also decorated with two pearls and a number of smaller diamonds.[1]

The diamond used in the piece from the "Great Harry" appears to have been a gift to Mary, Queen of Scots from Henry II of France.[2]

Charles I pawned the Jewel and it was split up.[3] The two remaining pearls were sold off in 1630 by James Maxwell, a groom of the bedchamber.[4] The Sancy Diamond was reclaimed but again pawned in 1654 and subsequently became part of the French Crown Jewels.[5] The Sancy Diamond is now in the collection at the Louvre.

The National Galleries of Scotland collection includes a 1604 portrait by John de Critz of James I and VI wearing the Mirror of Great Britain on his hat.[6]

The jewel was described in 1606, "Item, a greate and riche jewell of gould called the Mirror of Great Britaine, containing one very fair table-diamonde, one very faire table-rubie, two other diamonds cut lozengewise, the one of them called the stone of the letter H of Scotland, garnished with small diamonds, two round pearls fixed, and one faire diamond cut in fawcetts bought of Sawncy."[7]


  1. ^ Roy Strong, "Three Royal Jewels", in The Tudor and Stuart Monarchy, pp. 69–75.
  2. ^ Paton, James (2015). Scottish National Memorials: A Record of the Historical and Archaeological Collection in the Bishop's Castle, Glasgow, 1888. Forgotten Books. ISBN 978-1332193790.
  3. ^ Barker, Brian (1979). The Symbols of Sovereignty. Westbridge Books. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-7153-7649-2.
  4. ^ Foedera, vol. 8 part 3 (Hague, 1742), pp. 88-94: Calendar State Papers Domestic: Charles I: 1629-1631 (London, 1860), pp. 216-7.
  5. ^ Edward Twining, A history of the crown jewels of Europe, p. 245.
  6. ^ Scotland, National Galleries of. "James VI and I, 1566 - 1625. King of Scotland 1567 - 1625. King of England and Ireland 1603 - 1625 − John de Critz − c − Artists A-Z − Online Collection − Collection − National Galleries of Scotland". www.nationalgalleries.org. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  7. ^ John Nichols, The progresses, processions, and magnificent festivities, of King James the First, vol. 2 (London, 1828), pp. 46-7.