Joburg designer unknowingly creates diamond brooch for Queen Elizabeth

07 April 2019 - 00:00 By GRAEME HOSKEN
Queen Elizabeth wears The Botswana flower brooch designed by Kevin Friedman.
Queen Elizabeth wears The Botswana flower brooch designed by Kevin Friedman.
Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

Sitting in his studio paging through an online article proved life-changing for a Johannesburg jewellery designer.

"I couldn't believe what I was looking at. My design was right there on the queen's dress. The Botswana flower brooch," said Kevin Friedman.

Unbeknown to Friedman, the brooch he was commissioned to design and craft by the Botswana government had been presented to Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

The gold brooch, designed in the shape of ears of wheat and set with 11 diamonds, was given to her in 2007.

Friedman is best known for his design of the acclaimed $16m (R225m) Ponahalo necklace, which consists of a 316.15-carat diamond mined in Limpopo and cut into five stones.

"I was approached by the [Botswana] government and commissioned to design a piece which I was told would be presented as a retirement gift for a minister," he said.

"They told me they wanted it to reflect Botswana and that I should interpret through the piece what I think of Botswana."

Designer Kevin Friedman was shocked to find out that a brooch he designed for the Botswana government was actually for Queen Elizabeth.
Designer Kevin Friedman was shocked to find out that a brooch he designed for the Botswana government was actually for Queen Elizabeth.
Image: Supplied

Friedman said besides natural wildlife he incorporated Botswana's diamond and farming sectors into the design.

"I presented a drawing where I had made the [diamond] stones into interesting shapes."

Three months later Friedman was told the diamonds, which had been cut into the shapes in his sketches, were ready. "I was like, 'wow, this is perfect'," he said.

Friedman was told the design and the creation of the piece were to be kept strictly confidential. "I let it be. I didn't think anything further of it."

It was not until Friday, and nearly 12 years later, when Friedman was reading an online article about the jewellery that "Baby Sussex" - the unborn baby of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan - would inherit from the queen, that he discovered the identity of his brooch's owner.

"When I saw the photograph of the queen I thought that brooch looks so familiar and something I would make."

Reading further, Friedman realised the brooch was his.

"It was so surreal. As a designer, creating jewellery for someone like the queen is something that's definitely on your bucket list."


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