mercoledì 16 marzo 2016

Kate-Inspired Purchase Review: "Empress" Earrings and Necklace Repli-Kate

In this latest repli-kate review we'll look at the Kate Middleton-Inspired Filigree CZ Earring and Necklace Set by The Looking Glass Shop, which is a fab and affordable alternative to the Duchess's Mappin & Webb "Empress" set:

Readers may be familiar with The Looking Glass Shop, which stocks a great range of good-quality handmade repli-kates (see my review of their Halo cz earrings here and of their woodland charm necklace repli-kate here).
The latest addition to their collection is inspired by Catherine's well-loved "Empress" necklace and earring set by London-based jewellers Mappin & Webb:
Founded in 1775 as a silversmith business in Sheffield, the brand soon became a firm favourite with royalty, in its early years creating jewels for French Queen Marie Antoinette. The first British Royal Warrant came in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and by then the brand had acquired fashionable premises in Oxford St, London. Nowadays Mappin & Webb maintains warrants to both the Queen and the Prince of Wales, while historically they held a warrant to the Russian Imperial household.

Mappin & Webb boutique in Regent St, London.
The Duchess of Cambridge debuted the "Empress" 19mm pendant necklace on 5 August 2014, when she visited the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red art installation at the Tower of London, which commemorated the centenary of the start of WWI:
It took nearly a year for the matching earrings to make their first appearance, on 5 July 2015 at the christening of Princess Charlotte:
Since then, the Duchess has worn the pieces both individually and as a set a number of times. Below are some of the most recent appearances:


Wearing the set at the ICAP charity day on 9 December 2015.


Pairing the necklace with her sapphire and diamond earrings on a visit to Action on Addiction's Study Centre in Warminster, Wiltshire, on 10 December 2015.
Wearing the earrings (presumably) on their own to attend the Search and Rescuse Force disbandment parade at RAF Valley in Anglesey, North Wales.

According to the Mappin & Webb website, the signature Empress collection brings to us the elegance of a mystical time past and is inspired by an exotic motif, presented to the Queen of Siam.
The "Empress" 19mm pendant is made of 18ct gold and diamonds; it retails at £2,450 (€3,123/$3,470):

The earrings are similarly set with 0.88 carats of round, brilliant-cut diamonds set in 18ct white gold, measure 30 x 15 mm and feature a secure carriage fastening. They are available for £3,450 (€4,400/$4,890):

Mappin & Webb also offer a cheaper version of earrings and necklace, also in white gold but slightly smaller and more sparsely set with brilliants.

The repli-kate by The Looking Glass Shop can be purchased as a set for $78 (€72/£56) plus shipping, or you can get the earrings and necklace individually, priced at $48 (€44/£35) and $36 (€33/£26) respectively, plus shipping. The parcel had a pretty Alice in Wonderland sticker on it, in keeping with the shop theme:

A word of warning if you're ordering from outside the US: my parcel was marked with the actual retail value of the set, therefore I ended up having to pay import duties, which came up to around 30% of the declared retail value - an expense I hadn't quite budgeted for when placing my order!

Both the earrings and necklace are rhodium plated and pavé-set with cubic zirconia in a cross shape that's almost exactly the same as the orginal one. The pendant is slightly smaller than the one Kate wears, measuring approximately 16 mm in diameter. The chain is approximately 46 cm long, with a 5 cm additional extender, meaning it sits nicely at collarbone level. 

The earrings are similarly 16 mm in diameter and hang from nickel-free, pavé-set leverback closures for a total lenght of approximately 3.3 cm.

On the whole, these get a big thumbs up from me! They're probably the most accurate repli-kates of this particular set available at the mode, and made to a very high standard - I can't wait to see what Jillian has up her sleeve next!

Has any of you got these yet? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts!