24 November 2019

The Duchess of Cornwall's Pink Topazes

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

November babies are particularly lucky: one of their birthstones, the topaz, comes in a rainbow of shades. Today we're looking at some royal jewels set with the pink variety: the Duchess of Cornwall's pink topaz jewels.

The earrings and brooch appear in the Sotheby's catalogue (above) and online auction listing (below) in June 2000

The jewels are serious antiques, made around 1830. The design of the pieces, especially the cluster setting of the brooch, is definitely typical of that era. The earrings and brooch were sold at Sotheby's in London in June 2000, and in those auction notes, the firm speculates that the jewels might have once been part of a much larger parure. (That also makes a lot of sense, given the time when they were made.) The jewels sold for £22,925.

Camilla wears the earrings during a presidential banquet in Islamabad, pairing them with the James Bow Brooch, November 2006 (Pool/Getty Images)

We don't know exactly who purchased the jewels at auction, but as Camilla was spotted wearing the earrings in 2006, many have presumed that it was the Prince of Wales who bought them. It's certainly a sensible conclusion to make. Others have extended the speculation, guessing that Charles gave the topazes to Camilla as a wedding present. That's also certainly possible, though the date of the auction has always intrigued me -- it was just about six weeks before the Queen Mother's 100th birthday.

Camilla wears the necklace at the wedding of Peter and Autumn Phillips, May 2008 (IAN MCILGORM/AFP via Getty Images)

Regardless, we know for certain that Camilla had the jewels in her possession by 2006. She began wearing the brooch as the clasp on a pearl necklace the same year. Initially, she wore the jewel as the clasp on a longer pearl necklace, but by 2008, she had begun wearing it in the form we find most familiar today: as the clasp on a five-stranded pearl choker necklace.

Camilla wears the necklace at the wedding of Mike and Zara Tindall, July 2011 (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The grandeur of the topaz cluster, combined with the pearls, makes the necklace particularly well-suited for elegant daytime occasions. She's worn the necklace for a pair of family weddings: the nuptials of Peter and Autumn Phillips in May 2008, and the wedding of Mike and Zara Tindall in 2011.

Camilla wears the necklace for Trooping the Colour, June 2010 (Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

She also often wears the necklace for the annual Trooping the Colour celebrations in London. She chose the brooch for the event in June 2010...

Camilla wears the necklace for Trooping the Colour, June 2011 (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

...and in June 2011, when she rode in a carriage beside the newly-minted Duchess of Cambridge. She paired the brooch with pearl earrings on both occasions.

Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool /Getty Images

The necklace made another appearance at Trooping the Colour in 2014.

Camilla wears the necklace at Royal Ascot, June 2017 (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The necklace can also often be spotted on Camilla at Royal Ascot. Above, she pairs it with pearl earrings at the racecourse in June 2017.

Camilla wears the necklace and earrings at Royal Ascot, June 2014 (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

She's also worn the necklace and the earrings together on occasion during the day, including this appearance at Royal Ascot in June 2014.

Camilla wears the necklace at the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations, May 2016 (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The jewels may be appropriate for fancier daytime occasions, but they're also sparkly enough for evening wear. Gala occasions, including royal birthday celebrations, have provided plenty of opportunities for Camilla to wear the topazes in the evening. In May 2016, she wore them for the show held in Windsor on the final night of the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations.

Camilla wears the earrings and necklace at Charles's 60th birthday party, November 2008 (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

In November 2008, Camilla wore both the earrings and the necklace for a gala at Buckingham Palace given by the Queen in honor of Prince Charles's 60th birthday.

Camilla wears the necklace for the Dutch state banquet in London, October 2018 (PETER NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)

She's even paired the topazes with tiaras on a few occasions. In October 2018, she wore the necklace with pearl earrings and the Greville Tiara for the Dutch state banquet at Buckingham Palace.

Camilla wears the necklace and earrings for the CHOGM banquet in Malta, November 2015 (Arthur Edwards - Pool /Getty Images)

And in Malta in November 2015, Camilla wore the earrings and necklace with the Greville Tiara for the banquet during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.