The royal family chooses when to make fashion a part of the agenda, and when to remove it from the conversation. The Queen’s state funeral on September 19 was one such occasion that was about thoughtful clothing that served a purpose, rather than talking-point fashion. The Princess of Wales read the moment perfectly, picking a look that was the picture of discretion, accessorized with jewelry that spoke myriad words in its symbolism. It was smart, respectful, and resolutely not about her.

Blending into the sea of black, it was Kate’s job to play supporting act to William, the newly announced Prince of Wales, who is now first in line to the throne. But make no mistake, everything from the modest cut of Kate’s coat to the height of her heels (commanding without being frivolous) was considered. Even the Princess’s signature blow-dry was swept back into a low side bun barely visible beneath her veiled headpiece. This was not a day for showiness or gloss.

A closer look at the Queen’s Garrard four-strand pearl and diamond choker and Bahrain pearl drop earrings.

Photo: Getty Images

So far this week, Kate has worn pearl and diamond earrings previously belonging to Princess Diana, a pearl necklace from the Queen’s jewelry collection, and Her Majesty’s Diamond and Pearl Leaf Brooch—a striking piece featuring three large pearls at the center of a diamond pavé leaf. Each token, singular in design but with a shared meaning, has been an apt way for Kate to pay tribute to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and her grandmother-in-law, as the Princess prepares for a new chapter of her own life. As jewelry designer Melanie Georgacopoulo said in Vogue’s musing on the meaning of pearls, the stones “in part represent a departure that is the end of one thing but the beginning of something else.”

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