We recently discussed the lovely diamond frame earrings worn by the Duchess of Cambridge in her birthday portraits, and today, we’re turning our gaze on the other earrings she wore during the session: the Collingwood Pearl Drop Earrings that belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales.
These diamond and pearl drop earrings are ultimate classics: absolutely timeless, perfectly versatile, and endlessly useful. The earrings feature a round diamond stud, from which is suspended an additional round diamond and a bell cap set with three more rows of small diamonds. The bell caps each contain a lovely pearl drop.
Diana began wearing the earrings before she was Princess of Wales. They were a gift from Collingwood, a jewelry firm that was a favorite of the Spencer family. Collingwood also loaned jewels to Diana during the engagement period, including an elaborate diamond necklace and matching earrings, which she wore for a portrait session with Lord Snowdon. The firm reportedly wanted to gift the necklace and earrings to Diana as a wedding present, but they were cautioned by the palace that the gift would be too extravagant. The diamond and pearl earrings were given instead.
For a dinner in honor of King Khalid of Saudi Arabia at Claridge’s in London in June 1981, several weeks before the wedding, Lady Diana wore her new pearl earrings with the same diamond necklace Collingwood had previously loaned her. (The diamond necklace and earrings were returned to the firm, and they sold them to another buyer.) Diana wore the jewels with a blue and white gown with ruffles and polka dots for the banquet. Behind her, you’ll spot Fortune Fitzroy, Duchess of Grafton, who was the Queen’s Mistress of the Robes from 1967 until her death last year (at the age of 101!).
The earrings quickly became mainstays in Diana’s royal jewelry collection. She liked to pair them with other pearl pieces. Here, she wears the earrings with a single-stranded pearl necklace for a visit to the Royal College of Organists in July 1983. She paired the jewels with a blue off-the-shoulder gown from Belleville Sassoon.
In December 1984, Diana wore the earrings with a twisted three-stranded pearl necklace for a special gala performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express at the Apollo Theatre in London.
The earrings really shone, though, when paired with another royal pearl and diamond jewel. Diana loved to wear them with Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara. The pearls in the tiara and the pearls in the earrings are similarly sized, so the two jewels form quite a nice little married parure. Here, Diana wears the tiara and earrings together with a cream lace gown by Murray Arbeid at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., in November 1985. (This dinner was held the night after Diana’s famous dance with John Travolta at the White House.)
Diana continued to wear the tiara and earrings together for the rest of her royal marriage. In April 1991, during an official tour of Brazil, she paired them with a dramatic one-shoulder beaded dress for a dinner at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia.
A quarter of a century later, a new princess has embraced Diana’s favored gala jewel combination. Her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore the Lover’s Knot Tiara and the earrings together for the first time in July 2017 for a banquet at Buckingham Palace during the Spanish state visit. She wore the tiara and earrings with the Greville Ruby Necklace. Both the tiara and necklace were borrowed from the Queen.
A few weeks later, Kate wore the earrings again. This time, she brought them with her to Belgium, where she and William attended commemorations to mark the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele in July 2017. She also wore a jewel borrowed from the Queen, the Diamond and Pearl Leaf Brooch.
In October 2018, Kate paired the earrings with the Lover’s Knot Tiara again, this time for the Dutch state banquet at Buckingham Palace. She added one more piece to the married parure as well: Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace. The pearl drops on all three pieces work together beautifully.
Two months later, in December 2018, she wore the Lover’s Knot Tiara and the earrings together once again for the annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace.
But though she has often worn the earrings for gala occasions, Kate has also begun using them regularly for daytime occasions. In June 2019, she wore them with a black-and-white ensemble for Garter Day at Windsor.
Kate has made two appearances in the earrings in recent months. She wore the earrings with her poppies on the balcony for Remembrance Sunday in November 2021.
Around the same time, she also posed for a series of new portraits, which were released earlier this month to celebrate her 40th birthday. In this image, which was inspired by Victorian photography and royal portraits from the past, Kate wore three pieces of jewelry that belonged to her late mother-in-law: the earrings, the sapphire engagement ring, and the three-row pearl bracelet.