May 27 2011
It was the generous glint nestling among the glossy dark locks that did it. I never thought I would find myself regarding the new Duchess of Cambridge as a style icon, but a few weeks before the wedding, while she was still plain Kate Middleton, I saw a picture of her wearing what appeared to be a stonking pair of diamond ear studs, and felt a huge wave of envy. They looked wonderful – simple, stylish and authoritative, but not, as is her way, too ostentatious.
Most of my adult life I have craved a pair of studs that I wouldn’t need a magnifying glass to see sparkling, and watched the price go hopelessly and increasingly out of reach. I told myself that, with her new status, of course Kate could afford a pair that must be at least one carat each but, out of curiosity, I started researching current prices. Depending on quality, £13,000 to £20,000 is the going rate – end of dream.
Then a jeweller friend suggested I look at white topaz, a natural variant of the familiar golden stone which may not sparkle quite like a diamond but gives good bang for bucks if well cut. With the current vogue for coloured stones, they have been slightly eclipsed but there they were at Kiki McDonough, a favourite store of mine for well-priced “proper” jewellery, with the personal service and glamorous surroundings of a much grander brand.
Kiki has cleverly added a ring of tiny diamonds, both for their own sparkle and for the way they enhance the topaz’s shine, but the general effect in wear is of a large but not overbearing stud, and I think diamonds of this size would be too blingy. So, it seems, does Kate – Kiki let slip that the earrings I had seen in the picture were this very style. At £695 they add very effectively to Kate’s reputation for sensible, not excessive, shopping. More of an investment for me, but with an imminent birthday they made my partner’s life much easier, and still seemed like a glittering surprise on the day.