Kate's BAFTA look was reminiscent of a "fairy tale princess" as she debuted a pair of Princess Diana's favorite pearl earrings, last seen over 20 years ago

By Monique Jessen
February 11, 2019 03:39 PM

Kate Middleton made a glamorous appearance as she walked the red carpet at Sunday’s BAFTA event, debuting a pair of vintage earrings that honored her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana.

Wearing a white grecian-style asymmetrical dress by Alexander McQueen to the annual London film award ceremony, Kate accessorized the look with a pair of diamond and pearl earrings that were once a favorite of Diana’s.

“I thought that the earrings looked stunning, it was a very fairy tale princess look,” British jeweler and pearl specialist Claudia Bradby tells PEOPLE, adding: “The dress gave the earrings space to be beautiful on their own and it was all very feminine.”

The bold earrings, featuring a circular design of diamonds and a single diamond-encrusted pearl were worn by Diana several times in the 1990’s. The last time she wore them (minus the pearls, which are detachable) was to an event at the Royal Albert Hall in 1997, just a few weeks before her death.

Corbis/Getty; Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Like many of the jewels Kate has inherited from her mother-in-law, she chose to modernize the original design, swapping the pearls worn by Diana (with different diamond detailing) for a smaller more contemporary pearl. “These pearls look more elegant and more in proportion to the diamond element,” says Bradby from her studio in Hampshire, adding: “I am seeing a lot of demand for slightly more drop-style, elegant baroque pearls at the moment.”

Leaving all of her jewelry collection to be shared between her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry in the hope that their future wives would one day enjoy them, Kate has worn several of Diana’s pearl pieces, including her Collingwood pearl and diamond earrings, a wedding gift from Collingwood jewelers and a pearl bracelet by Nigel Milne that Diana wore with her iconic Catherine Walker & Co ‘Elvis’ look in 1989. In 2017, Kate also wore a pearl and diamond necklace belonging to the Queen but also worn by Diana to attend a dinner celebrating the Queen and Prince Philip‘s 70th wedding anniversary.

As to how she styles her pearl pieces so effortlessly, Bradby whose designs Kate has worn and who attended Kate and William’s royal wedding in 2011 says: “She doesn’t overdo the look and the pearls and dress work beautifully together along with her dark hair – it all felt like perfect pared back elegance.”