The Countess of Wessex has a small but mighty collection of jewelry, including some pieces with royal provenance. One of the most impressive pieces of that group is the set of diamond clip brooches that she received from her husband’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Gem-set clips, able to be worn either joined together as a single brooch or separately, were some of the most fashionable jewels in the early years of the Queen Mother’s marriage. She had multiple examples of the style in her collection, including a pair of all-diamond clips with an Art Deco-inspired design. Here, she wears the diamond clips joined together as a single brooch on her hat in 1936.
Here’s a close-up of the clips from many decades later. You’ll note the typical curve of the clips at the center of the brooch, as well as the geometric diamond cuts used throughout.
Elizabeth also wore her clips separately, scattering them on her clothing and her accessories. Here, in December 1938, she wears one of the diamond clips as a hair accessory during a trip to the theater.
In the spring of 1999, as her youngest grandson, Prince Edward, prepared for his royal wedding, Elizabeth decided to pass the clips along to the newest member of the family. She gave the antique diamond jewels to Edward’s new wife, Sophie Rhys-Jones, as a wedding present.
Fittingly, one of Sophie’s first public appearances in the clip brooches took place at the Queen Mother’s 99th birthday celebration at Clarence House a few weeks after the royal wedding. She wore them as separate brooches, both pinned to her white jacket, for the occasion.
But she has also frequently worn them joined together as a single brooch, as she did at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.
When the Wessexes represented the royal family at the Danish royal wedding in May 2004, Sophie wore the clips pinned to the neckline of her evening gown. She also wore her wedding tiara (which has since been remodeled).
For me, clip brooches are often at their most effective when they’re pinned at the neckline of a gown. Sophie wore the diamond clips this way in April 2006 for Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday party in London.
But these days, the clips are most frequently spotted on Sophie at Royal Ascot, usually worn together as a single brooch. She wears them in the single brooch format here at Ascot in June 2014.
And here, she wears them the same way for Royal Ascot in June 2015.