LONDON — Unlike so many past royal weddings in Britain, this one did not shine with piles of aristocrats’ jewels. Rather, it was a study in simplicity and modernity.
There’s no better example than the bride’s Cartier tiara, which is owned by the Royal Collection and was loaned to her by Queen Elizabeth II.
The tiara, which was made in 1935-36, was purchased by the future King George VI for his wife, who would later become Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Prince William’s great-grandmother.
“It’s a sweet, pretty, youthful tiara with a royal provenance and links to the family,” said Leslie Field, author of “The Queen’s Jewels: The Personal Collection of Elizabeth II.” “It suits the delicacy of Kate’s face and features, and it’s very lightweight and flexible. This tiara punched all the right buttons.”
The Halo Scroll tiara is set with some 1,311 small brilliant and baton cut diamonds, and features platinum fan-shaped motifs. “It’s a very 1930s type design, and was modern at the time. And it does not have any important stones,” said Field, adding that the tiara was meant to be worn far forward on the head.
According to Field, the Queen Mother, who was then Duchess of York, wore the tiara only once in public before giving it to her daughter Queen Elizabeth, who has never worn it in public. The Queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, and her daughter Princess Anne, both wore the Halo Scroll tiara as young women.
Like the tiara, the bride’s wedding ring is also discreet, and rooted in royal tradition. It is made from Welsh gold, a tradition that began when the future King George VI was married. The gold is from the Welsh mine Clogau.
“The ring has a simple, very classical shape — nothing more mysterious than what you saw on TV — and the use of Welsh gold is a very tactful and caring nod to Wales, a principality that is part of the United Kingdom,” said Geoffrey Munn, managing director of Wartski, the Mayfair jeweler that holds royal warrants from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.
“Prince Charles is the Prince of Wales, and William is Prince William of Wales, so in that sense, the gold has a talismanic, magical origin. And the gold, of course, was the Queen’s gift to them.”
Field said the bride — who also wore new diamond drop earrings, a wedding gift from her parents — was not alone in her low-key choice of jewelry for the day. “Throughout the congregation there was very little jewelry. It was not a case of aristocrats piling on the family jewels. It was all very modern,” she said. “These are people who spend their money on dresses and hats.”