Kate Middleton’s Diamonds: The Duchess of Cambridge Mixes Vintage Gems with Contemporary Designs

Her Royal Highness styles diamonds in a modern way.

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Kate Middleton set the tone for her royal diamond jewelry style on April 29, 2011, the day she married Prince William. For her royal wedding, she borrowed a stunning Cartier diamond art deco tiara from the Queen, and matched contemporary custom-made earrings from the British jeweler Robinson Pelham

This blend of something old and something new is a look the Duchess has consistently worn over the last ten years. She doesn’t always wear vintage and contemporary at the same time, like she did on her wedding, but it does happen on occasion. This approach to jewelry is very different than Queen Elizabeth, who uses the Crown Jewels and pieces in her vast personal collection as symbols of power and her position as Britain’s monarch. Kate’s style is also quite different than Princess Diana, who almost always wore grand jewels (as opposed to contemporary and trendier designs). Diana made the old jewels look fresh by styling them in a youthful way.

Kate’s approach to jewelry is totally parallel to her taste in clothes. The royal is known for shopping at mass market labels such as Topshop and Zara, as well as wearing custom-made ensembles from Alexander McQueen. Her unexpected mix makes her style both markedly modern and unique.

Find out more about Kate Middleton’s jewels below.

The Cartier Halo Tiara and Robinson Pelham Oak Leaf Earrings

Kate Middleton Royal Wedding - Carriage Procession To Buckingham Palace And Departures
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge journeys by carriage procession to Buckingham Palace following her marriage to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

On her wedding day, Kate Middleton’s “something borrowed” was Queen Elizabeth’s Cartier Halo tiara. The Art Deco diamond jewel was originally purchased from London’s Cartier outpost in 1936 by Queen Elizabeth I’s father, King George VI, as a gift for her mother. The wave-like shapes at the front of the design give the piece a delicate sense of movement. 

Kate’s “something new” was a pair of custom-made Robinson Pelham diamond earrings. A gift from her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, the earrings have an acorn at the center of an open, pear-shape frame ending in a stylized oak leaf.  The design was inspired by the Middleton family’s coat of arms, which was created in advance of the royal wedding. There are three acorns in the crest representing Kate, her sister Pippa, and her brother James. The acorns also reference the oak trees in West Berkshire, England where the children grew up. 

Maple Leaf Brooch

Kate Middleton diamond jewelry outfit look
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge at the Victoria Airport. (Photo by Danny Martindale/FilmMagic)

During William and Kate’s 2016 royal tour of Canada, the Duchess raised celebrity airport style to dazzling new heights. She stepped off the plane carrying a young Charlotte and wearing a fitted Jenny Packham dress, which she had accented with a giant diamond maple leaf brooch. The jewel had been given to the late Queen Mother by her husband King George VI to commemorate their 1939 trip to Canada. Round diamonds accent the leaves of the design and baguettes line the stem. 

Kate coordinated the brooch with a blue hat, also embellished with maple leaves. Contemporary tanzanite and diamond earrings by G. Collins & Sons sparkled from her lobes. The jewels are believed to have been a gift from Prince William. 

Princess Diana’s Diamond and Pearl Earrings 

Kate Middleton diamond jewelry look with Prince William
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the EE British Academy Film Awards, (Photo by Tim Ireland – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince William is a royal patron of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts organization, so the royal couple always attends the BAFTA awards, an event similar to the American Academy Awards. It doesn’t matter how glamourous the stars are who attend the event, Kate sashays down the red carpet and inevitably steals the lion’s share of the press. 

Such was the case in 2019, when Kate roused quite a bit of jewelry excitement. Wearing a white, one-shoulder Alexander McQueen gown with diamond and pearl earrings from Princess Diana’s collection, Kate was a vision. Several astute royal jewelry experts noted at the time that Kate seemed to have swapped the round South Sea pearls in the earrings for oblong-pearls from another pair of Diana’s earrings. If you think the alteration seems unusual, it isn’t. There is a long tradition of royals tweaking and transforming their jewels. 

The Queen’s Antique Diamond Earrings

Kate Middleton wearing diamond jewelry with Princess Charlotte
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge during the annual Trooping the Colour Parade. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

While Kate does enjoy wearing her own contemporary jewels for her day-to-day schedule of events, she’s been known to borrow staples from the Queen for more formal and traditional occasions. At the 2017 Trooping of the Colors—an annual event where the entire royal family gathers together on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to watch a parade celebrating the Queen’s birthday—Kate looked sensational in a millennial pink Alexander McQueen dress, a coordinated Jane Taylor hat, and vintage diamond earrings. 

The jewels come from the Queen’s collection and appear to be on permanent loan to Kate, who has worn them several times. Very little is publicly known about these dazzling earrings that suit Kate to perfection because they don’t appear in any of the authorized books on the Queen’s jewels. But, it’s estimated that they were made around 1830—hailing from either the late Georgian or early Victorian eras.  

Robinson Pelham Aspen Earrings

Kate Middleton diamond jewelry look with white outfit
Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at The Big Lunch initiative at The Eden Project. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

On June 11, 2021, several senior members of the royal family met with world leaders attending the G7 summit in Cornwall, England. For the reception, Kate showed that she is as much a fan of Robinson Pelham’s jewels now as she was when she married William ten years ago. At the gathering, Kate paired a white Alexander McQueen coat dress with her Robinson Pelham gold and diamond Aspen earrings. The oversized tear-drop diamond earrings provided a little sparkle to her sleek ensemble. In other words, Kate Middleton was the very picture of modern royalty on the world stage.