martedì 2 agosto 2016

The Duchess Dictionary: Asprey

Founded in 1781, Asprey has a long and established relationship with British royalty dating back to the 1800s when Queen Victoria awarded the first Royal Warrant for dressing cases, travelling bags, and writing cases.
Since then, Asprey has held a Royal Warrant for every British monarch and several other foreign heads of state. Today, Asprey continues to hold a Royal Warrant for the Prince of Wales.

The Duchess of Cambridge has been photographed wearing a few Asprey pieces over the years, starting from well before her engagement, when she wore the "167 Button" pendant to the Boodles Boxing Ball at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on 3 June 2006.

The "167 Button" pendant is a pavé diamond button with a central amethyst stone, in 18ct white gold suspended from an 18ct white gold chain. The pendant has a diameter of 14mm / 0.6", while the chain is 45.7cm /18" long and is priced at £3,150/$4,250. The purple amethyst is a nod to the firm's signature colour - all Asprey purchases are wrapped in signature Asprey purple packaging and tied with purple ribbon:

The design is inspired by the buttons employed in traditional English tailoring, and the number 167 references the brand's prestigious Mayfair premises, at 167 New Bond Street.

The Duchess has selected the "167 Button" pendant for many significant occasions: she wore it on 23 October 2010, just prior to the official announcement of her engagement, to the wedding of Harry Meade and Rosie Bradford in Gloucestershire (below left); it travelled with her on her first overseas tour, where it made a high-profile appearance on Canada Day on 1 July 2011 (below right):

Other significant appearances of the pendant include the Duchess's first solo engagement at the opening of a Lucian Freud exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London on 8 February 2012 (below left), then at her first official engagement since the announcement of her pregnancy with Prince George, again at the National Portrait Gallery for the unveiling of her first official portrait on 11 January 2013 (below right):

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Another well-loved Asprey piece in the royal jewellery box, albeit a much more recent acquisition, is the Woodland Charm necklace. The charms, part of Asprey's Woodland Collection, which takes inspiration from the "myriad wonders of Britain’s woodlands", are designed by Shaun Leane and realised in 18ct yellow gold, diamond and enamel, with prices starting at £2,050/$2,800 for the Oak Leaf charm, one of those in the Duchess's necklace (the others are the Acorn charm, priced at £3,050/$4,150) and Mushroom charm for £4,100/$5,550):

The necklace made its first appearance on Easter Sunday 2014, while on a visit to Taronga Zoo in Sydney, as part of the royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, and the Duchess has worn it a number of times since, including on her subsequent visit to the National Indigenous Training Academy at Uluru (shown below):

The acorn and oak leaf charm are most probably a subtle reference to the Duchess's own coat of arms, which features three acorns with leaves to represent the three Middleton children:

Incidentally, if you love this necklace as much as I do and are after a great repli-kate, you might want to consider the one by The Looking Glass Shop on Etsy; you can read my review here.

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Debate is still very much open on whether the unidentified diamond and gemstone earrings Catherine debuted in Singapore at a reception at Eden Hall on 12 September 2012, are indeed by Asprey.
Below, she is seen wearing them at a tea party at the British High Commissioner residence in Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, later in the tour:

The earrings feature a medium-sized oval pale blue gemstone (aquamarine?), surrounded by pavé diamonds and hanging from a row of five bezel-set brilliants.
My Small Obsessions has a series of close-ups on her Facebook page.
Asprey does have rather distinctive, although not exclusive, ear posts (shown below on a different style for comparison), that seem to match the ones in Catherine's earrings, but the uncertainty remains:

By far the most striking piece of Asprey jewellery ever worn by Catherine, however, is the instantly recognizable Canadian Maple Leaf brooch:

In the form of a leaf of the Candian Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), the national emblem of Canada, it was given to Queen Elizabeth by King George VI, to mark the State Visit to Canada in 1939. It was first seen on the Queen's lapel during the Atlantic crossing in the liner Empress of Australia, and appeared on many occasion throughout the tour and thereafter (shown below left in Vancouver in 1958, and in 2000, worn to receive the insignia of the Order of Canada at Buckingham Palace), sometimes worn as a hat-badge.


The Queen loaned it to Princess Elizabeth for her first visit to Canada in 1951. 

The Queen inherited it upon her mother's death in 2002, and in turn has since loaned it to the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge for her first visit to Canada with the Duke in July 2011. 


The Queen in Ottawa for the Canada Day celebrations in 2010 and the Duchess of Cornwall attending Remebrance Day events at the National War Memorial in Ottawa in November 2009.

I think we can safely expect it to make a reappearance on the autumn 2016 tour, although this is not the only brooch with a Canadian connection in the Queen's jewelry box (or, indeed, the only maple leaf brooch!), so we'll just have to wait and see!

 The Duchess of Cambridge wore the brooch three times during the 2011 tour.

The brooch measures 5.5 x 5 cm and is made of platinum set with baguette and brilliant-cut diamonds.  According to Hugh Roberts, author of the definitive The Queen's Diamonds, who examined the King's Privy Purse accounts, the brooch cost £300 5s and was purchased on 29 April 1939, just before the couple's departure.

Looking for a replikate? This one on Etsy is slightly smaller than the original but very pretty. Alternatively, I'm holding out for the Royal Collection to come up with a replica - they currently have around 10 replicas of the Queen's brooches available for sale, including the New Zealand Silver Fern as seen on Catherine, and I suppose they might think a Maple Leaf would prove popular ;-)

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