Queen Elizabeth, Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker's timeless jewels: Cost and history of diamonds and pearls

The royal ladies all wore colorless jewels — diamonds and pearls — that are steeped in history and memories


                            Queen Elizabeth, Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker's timeless jewels: Cost and history of diamonds and pearls
Queen Elizabeth wearing the Richmond Brooch, Kate Middleton wearing the Queen's Japanese pearl choker, and Camilla Parker-Bowles wearing the Bugle Horn Brooch (Getty Images)

The symbolism of jewelry is timeless. During the solemn event of Prince Philip's funeral on Saturday, April 17, some jewels stood out because they provided the comfort of memories attached to them on a difficult day. Prince Phillip died just two months short of his 100th birthday in June, after battling illness for weeks, leaving behind his wife, the Queen, to whom he had been married for 73 years. His immediate family members got together to bid a final, fond farewell at the St George's Chapel.

In a symbolic tribute, the Queen, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, all wore colorless jewels — diamonds and pearls, for Philip's funeral — as is the tradition during periods of mourning. Here's what's to know about these precious gems, steeped in history and poignant personal memories.

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Queen Elizabeth wearing Queen Mary's Richmond Royal Brooch at Prince Philip's funeral (Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth — Richmond royal brooch

The Queen's mourning ensemble, though a stark contrast to her regular pastel outfits, were complemented by a special accessory that paid tribute to her 73-year-old partner: the Richmond Royal Brooch the Daily Beast said in a report. It is one of the largest in her collection and was a wedding gift for her grandmother Queen Mary's nuptials in 1893.

The pierced scroll pattern of the diamond-and-pearl brooch is a marvel of Victorian design, according to Write Royalty. Brilliant diamonds are pavé embedded in the gold and silver mount. The pearl pendant and the diamond-and-pearl core are also removable. The Queen often wears the brooch with a 9.7 cm x 7.5 cm pear-shaped pearl drop dangling from it, but this complimentary jewel that the Queen usually attaches to the brooch was not used for the funeral ceremony.

The Queen wearing the Richmond Brooch (Getty Images)

According to Sir Hugh Robert's compendium of royal jewels, the brooch was made by Hunt & Roskell in 1893 and cost a reported 500 pounds (the equivalent of 63,000 pounds or US$87,000 today). This information from a Daily News article from June 24, 1893, is footnoted in the book, titled 'The Queen’s Diamonds'. Princess May of Teck received it as a gift from the Town of Richmond for her wedding to Prince George, Duke of York. They became the future Queen Mary and King George V.

Although the size of Queen Mary’s Richmond Royal Brooch makes it a difficult piece to wear during the day, the accessory lit up the Queen’s all-black look. She has worn the brooch on multiple occasions earlier, including that of the wedding of her grandson Prince Charles and Meghan Markle which also took place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in 2018.

The Queen wearing the Japanese pearls necklace to a royal engagement in Bangladesh in November, 1983 (Getty Images)

Kate Middleton — Queen's four-strand Japanese pearls

Kate Middleton paid a touching tribute in pearls to Princess Diana and The Queen by wearing Her Majesty's pearl choker to Prince Philip's funeral. According to reports, the Queen had the necklace made years ago with pearls that the Japanese government had sent her as a present. The queen has worn the pearl necklace on many occasions over the years, including a royal engagement in Bangladesh in 1983.

But Kate's tribute wasn't to the Queen alone. During the 1980s, the Queen often wore the four delicate strands of priceless pearls, which are joined at the front by a diamond clasp. However, she lent it to Kate's mother-in-law, Princess Diana, for a state banquet in the Netherlands during 1982. The elegant necklace was worn by Prince William and Prince Harry's mother at the royal banquet which took place at Hampton Court Palace.

Kate Middleton wearing the Queen's four-strand Japanese pearls during Prince Philip's funeral (Getty Images)

The Duchess of Cambridge wore matching pearl-drop earrings from the Queen's jewelry case, which peeked out from under her netted black fascinator. The Bahrain pearl earrings are made from pearls that were gifted to The Queen when she married Prince Philip. Kate had also previously worn the Japanese pearls choker at a dinner to celebrate the monarch and Philip’s 70th wedding anniversary reported the Independent.

Kate Middleton wearing the Lover's Knot tiara and Bahrain pearl drop earrings (Getty Images)

Camilla Parker Bowles — Bugle Horn Brooch

Camilla Parker Bowles's brooch was also imbued with significance. Camilla is the Rifles' Colonel-in-Chief, a position which earlier belonged to the Duke of Edinburgh. The Rifles is an infantry regiment of the British Army. The silver Bugle Horn is used as the cap badge of the regiment and is worn by every Rifleman in present times, explained Hello Magazine.

The bugle horn, regarded as the perfect substitute for the drum, was first used by Light Infantry and later Rifle Regiments to pass orders around the battlefield in the early 1800s.

Camilla Parker Bowles wearing the Bugle Horn Brooch (Instagram/@clarencehouse)

Wearing the brooch, which was commissioned by the regiment she was honoring the memory of her father-in-law, Prince Philip, as she took over the job from him in the summer. In fact, the Duke's final public engagement was turning over the role to Prince Charles' wife, which makes Camilla's wearing the brooch a thoughtful and symbolic choice.

Here's a close look at the three timeless pieces of jewelry: 

(L-R) Queen Elizabeth wearing the Richmond Brooch, Kate Middleton wearing the Queen's Japanese pearl choker and Camilla Parker-Bowles wearing the Bugle Horn Brooch (Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth was seen in a poignant photo sitting alone in a mask during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Inside the chapel, all members of the royal family were required to be seated two meters apart for the 50-minute service. The palace previously confirmed that all those who had traveled to the funeral had met the "guidelines."

After the ceremony was over, Prince William and Prince Harry were spotted speaking to one another, as they made their way out of the chapel and towards Windsor castle. As they made their way out of the chapel, Harry was seen chatting with Kate Middleton as William walked a few paces ahead. However, the Duchess of Cambridge stepped away and let the two reportedly feuding brothers exchange a few words. It seemed like she was urging the both of them to talk to each other.

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