Diana was a fan of costume jewellery, like Kate

Diana was a fan of costume jewellery, like Kate

Yes, Kate Middleton likes a bit of costume jewellery. But so what? Diana was a big fan, too, says this jewellery expert…

  • Fashion commentator Suzy Menkes said Kate’s jewellery is a ‘disappointment’
  • But angry fans insist there is nothing wrong with using modern pieces, too
  • For all the latest Royal news, pictures and video click here 

The Princess of Wales has come under fire for her modest taste in jewellery.

Certainly, it’s true that Catherine is willing to wear high-street and her jewellery is understated for anything other than state occasions, banquets and so on – which  led fashion commentator Suzy Menkes to suggest that she has been a ‘disappointment’ in her approach.

Worse, Ms Menkes, suggested that the Princess seems indifferent to the fabulous collection to which she has access and lacks the sort of passion that her step-mother-in-law, Queen Camilla, shows when it comes to wearing sparklers.

Yet Catherine makes full use of the royal jewel box when the occasion is suitable – and is by no means the first royal to choose ‘costume’ over more ostentatious sparklers.

The three simple discs on Catherine’s simple, modern necklace are inscribed with the names of her children

Diana, too, wore a simple gold disc with the names of William inscribed – a gift from Charles. She is pictured here with Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones in 1983

Charles bought this military style star brooch for Diana in Chicagon n 1986. It cost £70

Indeed the previous Princess of Wales, Diana, loved to dress down and could think of little better than sneaking into costume jewellers Butler & Wilson in South Kensington.

And what she picked out would inevitably get the royal watchers scratching their heads about the provenance of a new pair of heart-shaped pearls (paste)  or exclaim how innovative of her to pin an antique pavé diamond (diamanté) starburst brooch into her hair! 

But Diana wore these pieces at official occasions, too.

On a tour to Saudi Arabia in 1986, she was photographed wearing a pair of sparkling crescent moon earrings that was thought to have been a gift from either her host, or her husband. 

In September 1986, during a visit to Chicago for a polo match and a formal dinner at the iconic Marshall Field’s department store, Prince Charles even visited the city’s outpost of her favourite costume jeweller and bought his former wife a military-style star brooch. It only cost him $90.

Diana also wore simple gold jewellery. The necklace with a D charm came from before her marriage to Prince Charles, but she continued wearing it long after – this picture was taken at a polo match during a royal tour of Australia in 1985.

After the birth of Prince William, Prince Charles gave her a gold disc pendant necklace, engraved, in Charles’s handwriting, with their son’s name.

Not unlike this three gold disc necklace worn by Kate, with the initials of her three children on each disc

The Princess of Wales has been happy to wear formal jewellery for State occasions. Here she is seen at a State Banquet in November, the first since Charles III’s accession to the throne

Diana wears an ‘antique’ starburst brooch in her hair that was in fact a modern piece

The simple gold D charm had been with Diana since before the marriage but she continued to wear it afterwards

The charm was on view for this polo match in Victoria, Australia in 1985

The heart-shaped pearl earrings are impressive – but paste!

Recently, I went to a party at Kensington Palace hosted by the former Crown Jeweller, Garrard.

I wore a matching necklace and bracelet by an antique American costume jeweller called Panetta… two very experienced jewellery editors from respected publications, including one who writes for Vogue, asked me if they were vintage Bulgari – they looked so real.

The joy of jewels is in the eye of the beholder – as the Princess of Wales makes very clear.

  • Josie Goodbody, is a jewellery historian and author of mystery novels. 

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