The occasions on which we see the Duchess of Cambridge wearing grand pieces on loan from from the Windsor family vault or the royal collection are few and far between, thus making those rare happenings all the more significant.
Just before the royal wedding, I came across a rumor that Catherine wanted to wear flowers in her hair on her wedding rather than a tiara, and I damn near passed out. I myself was horrified by the notion; the Daily Mail summed up my feelings perfectly: “The US, home of Miss Universe and Barbie, will be disappointed if Miss Middleton doesn’t wear a tiara.”
You’ve got that right! Why on earth would Catherine – one of so few women in the world justified in wearing this particular hair accessory, especially on her wedding – want to turn the opportunity to rifle through Her Majesty’s private collection? Does she know how many plastic/CZ tiaras fly off the shelves during wedding season in the states, while Catherine has the option of borrowing one that is not only chock full of stones, but rich in history?
In the end, Her Royal Highness opted to borrow the Cartier Halo Tiara, but since then, it’s been suggested that she prefers not to wear anything atop her head, save for a jaunty hat. In fact, the only time we’ve seen Catherine wear a tiara since her wedding was en route to a private party at St. James’s Palace in December 2013. She chose a subtle piece that was worn previously by Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother.
The same rule of “only once and awhile,” however, doesn’t apply to other pieces; some are heirlooms, some are gifts, and some right from the high street shops. In no particular order, here are my 5 favorite pieces Catherine has worn since becoming the Duchess of Cambridge:
1. Pink and white diamond necklace by Swiss jeweler Mouawad at the 2011 Sun Military Awards. This was the first time Catherine fans saw anything as show-stopping as the blue sapphire and diamonds engagement ring.
The set is rumored to be a wedding gift, but the palace won’t say one way or another since the jewels are part of Catherine’s private collection [H/T What Kate Wore].
2. Zara Necklace at the Royal film performance of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. I recall people on Twitter scrambling to ID the necklace Catherine wore that evening (I was one of them), mainly because we had seen the cream Roland Mouret gown before. Finally, @AnnieElizabethN made the ID, and the world went bananas over a $35 Zara costume necklace. Naturally, it sold out in a flash. Catherine wore her hair up in a messy ponytail so as to show off the detail of the necklace, which featured three tiers of rhinestones in a pewter setting.
3. Cartier Trinity necklace at the National Portrait Gallery. It was the summer of the 2012 London Olympics, and Catherine was one of Team Great Britain’s ambassadors. What better way to represent her country than to wear a blue shift by Stella McCartney, who just happened to design Team GB’s uniforms? Perhaps what was more eye-catching was the show-stopping Cartier Trinity necklace, made of yellow, white and pink gold and diamonds, according to My Small Obsessions. It wasn’t part of the Olympic merchandise (that would have been a proper laugh), but the Duchess felt it was an appropriate occasion to wear the personal piece.
4. Kiki McDonough Earrings. We first saw Catherine wear these Lola Blue Topaz Hoops ($5,000) to the UK’s Creative Industries Reception on July 30th, 2012.
Catherine’s collection of Kiki McDonough pieces has grown over the past few years, ranging from citrine drop earrings to diamond studs.
5. Blue sapphire earrings. First seen on William and Catherine’s 2011 tour of Canada, and designed just like her Garrard engagement ring.
I compared these to a pair Diana wore, and — like my fellow royalists My Small Obsessions and Diana’s Jewels — can only speculate that perhaps William gave them to Catherine, and she had them reset with just a simple diamond from which the blue sapphire drops.