The Duchess of Cornwall recently showed off a magnificent rubies and diamonds necklace at a gala in Philadelphia. The British Press had a field day reporting on how much the necklace cost (one million British pounds or 2.3 million Canadian dollars), who gave it to her (Saudi Royal Family) and whether she or her family gets to keep it (it reverts to the Royal Collection upon her death).

Camilla is fond of this particular combination of gemstones as she possesses other ruby and diamond jewelry including a tiara that belonged to her beautiful great-grandmother, Alice Keppel (top right) reputedly bought for her by Prince Charles at a Sothebys auction. Alice Keppel (1869-1947) was one of the mistresses of the Prince of Wales, Bertie (1841-1910), the eldest son of Queen Victoria. He later became King Edward VII.

Such broad-collared necklaces are a stand out - they totally make the outfit so a plain dress is required. It takes pizazz to wear something so bold. This style of jewelry is reminiscent of Egyptian collared necklaces. They were masters of multi-layered necklaces which perfectly suited their simple style of clothing. The 37 rubies in Camilla's are linked to and kept apart by vertical diamond encrusted spacers. Spacers, be it humble metal ones that we use in beading are necessary to maintain the drape of the layers otherwise the strands will get all tangled up.