Queen Camilla taps into mermaidcore jewellery trend at Royal Ascot

Queen Camilla donned the Courtauld Thomson Scallop Shell brooch, formerly owned by Queen Elizabeth II, for the first time at Royal Ascot, channelling the mermaidcore trend which is currently rippling through fine jewellery

By Kim Parker

In a touching tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Camilla wore a sparkling shell-shaped heirloom jewel pinned to her cream-coloured Dior outfit for the first day of Royal Ascot 2023. Paired with the same diamond earrings she wore to the recent Coronation, it was a sparkling way to open the meet, the first since the late Queen passed away.

The glittering piece, named the Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch, has previously been worn by both Queen Elizabeth II and the late Queen Mother. It was originally designed for Lord Courtauld Thomson (son of Robert William Thomson, the Scottish inventor of the pneumatic tyre) by the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company in 1919. It features a shell motif in pavé-set diamonds, with a single pearl at its centre, with a fringe of five uneven diamond pendants ending in pear-cut stones.

The Courtauld Thomson shell brooch
A close up of the Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch, which was worn by Queen Camilla on day one of Royal Ascot 2023, and previously worn by both Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II.

The shell brooch eventually made its way to Sir Courtauld Thomson’s sister, the writer Winifred Thomson, who then left it to the Queen Mother in 1944, “as a mark of respect and profound admiration”. Winifred also stipulated that she hoped the piece would be passed down from Queen to Queen. The Queen Mother wore the brooch throughout her life (including to the celebrations marking her centenary in August 2000).

After her death two years later, her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, inherited the brooch and also wore it for important public events throughout her life such as Christmas broadcasts, the unveiling of a statue dedicated to the Queen Mother in 2009 and to the wedding of her granddaughter, Zara, in 2011.

Queen Elizabeth II wears Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch
Queen Elizabeth II wore the Scallop Shell Brooch to the wedding between England rugby player Mike Tindall and her granddaughter Zara Phillips at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh in 2011 (Photo by Ben Stansall/Getty Images)

It’s now hoped that Queen Camilla will continue in this grand tradition. Given that the ocean-inspired, mermaidcore jewellery trend is currently having a huge renaissance in the fine jewellery world right now, it feels like a particularly apt moment to wear this beautiful heirloom gem once more.

Like this? Discover the history behind the jewels worn by Queen Camilla at the Coronation.