The Sovereign's Orb is a piece of coronation regalia. It was commissioned for the coronation of Charles II in 1661 from the royal goldsmith Robert Viner. It is composed of gold, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, amethyst, diamonds, pearls, and enamel. It has been used at all coronations subsequent to that of Charles II.
In 1671, it was damaged in Colonel Thomas Hood's attempt to steal the regalia. The Orb represents Christian sovereignty over the earth. It was set with 12 large diamonds, 30 rubies, sapphires, and emeralds for the coronation of George I in 1714.
During the coronation ceremony, the Archbishop of Canterbury places the orb in the right hand of the Monarch. It is returned to the altar. The Monarch leaves the coronation wearing the Crown, carrying the Sceptre, and holding the Orb.
William and Mary came to the throne in 1689 as King and Queen, each in their own right. An orb was made for Mary II. It is called Queen Mary's Orb. It was used once and never used again. Both orbs were placed on Queen Victoria's coffin at her funeral.
The orbs are hollow balls of gold. The Sovereign's Orb is 6.5" in diameter. It weighs 42oz 7dwt. Queen Mary's orb is smaller: it measures 5.75" in diameter. It weighs 34oz 6dwt. Queen Mary's orb was originally set with hired jewels. Today it is set with imitations for display purposes. The Sovereign's Orb is currently set with over 600 precious stones and pearls.
- "Sovereign's Orb". Royal Collection Trust. http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/31718/the-sovereigns-orb. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Mears, Kenneth (1994), The Crown Jewels, Historic Royal Palaces Agency 1996, p. 17
- Mears, Kenneth (1994), The Crown Jewels, Historic Royal Palaces Agency 1996, p. 16