TWO diamond brooches belonging to Princess Margaret have been bought by a jeweller from St Neots. Kevin Coleman, who owns Baker Bros Jewellers, paid £50,000 for the two pieces. One is a spray of heather in diamonds with a stem made of emeralds. The prince

Princess Margaret wearing the heather spray, diamond and emerald brooch

TWO diamond brooches belonging to Princess Margaret have been bought by a jeweller from St Neots.

Kevin Coleman, who owns Baker Bros Jewellers, paid £50,000 for the two pieces.

One is a spray of heather in diamonds with a stem made of emeralds. The princess wore the brooch at her first solo engagement, the launch of the ship The Edinburgh Castle in Belfast in 1947. The other is a sapphire and diamond wheat brooch, made by the Canadian jeweller, Birks.

Mr Coleman, who bought the pieces at the sale of Princess Margaret's personal items in London last week, said it was the most exciting auction he had been to.

He said: "I love diamonds and I knew there would be plenty going on show. I knew there was not going to be another opportunity to buy pieces of royal jewellery."

The auction was held by Princess Margaret's children, Viscount Linley, 44, and Lady Sarah Chatto, 42, to pay death duties of £3million. The sale of some 800 items yielded nearly £14million. Princess Margaret died, aged 71, in February 2002.

Some of the pieces went for more than 20 or 30 times the price estimated by the auctioneers, Christie's.

Mr Coleman, who has been a jeweller for more than 30 years, said: "Christie's were very clever, they told you hardly anything about the pieces and the prices were incredible. One aquamarine and diamond ring was priced at £400 but went for £28,000. A Cartier watch priced at £2,500 went for £57,000 and when the bidding went on for a Faberge clock you heard 275 and 500 and you realised it was in thousands. It went for £1.24million and a tiara went for £1million. There were also three plastic umbrellas that went for £2,400."

There were some 250 bidders on each day of the auction plus 100 telephone lines with calls being taken from around the globe. There were also screens in ante-rooms.

Mr Coleman says he has no plans to sell the brooches. Instead, he will put them on display at his Bedford shop.

"I was bidding against fierce opposition and, when I bought them, I felt quite pleased with myself," he said.

Baker Bros Jewellers, with shops in Bedford and Letchworth, is a family business, run by Mr Coleman, his wife, Patti, and their daughters, Lizzie and Rebecca.

INFORMATION: Baker Bros Jewellers is at 11-13 St Peter's Street, Bedford, and Leys Avenue, Letchworth.