Born into a prominent diplomatic family, Japan’s Empress Masako enjoyed a cosmopolitan life and education, studying at both Harvard and Oxford, she today speaks a total of five languages. In 1993, Empress Masako gave up her diplomatic career and married then-Crown Prince Naruhito. Previously, she rarely made public appearances, reportedly because of mental stress , but became much more actively involved in royal engagements following her husband’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne in May 2019 – and her own elevation to the role of empress consort. Lady Louise Windsor: Queen Elizabeth’s favourite grandchild? The minimalist style of Empress Masako lets her jewellery – primarily pearls – be the focal point of her look. The precious gems are closely associated with Japan: the cultivation of seawater pearls in Japan was pioneered by Mikimoto Kōkichi, founder of the Mikimoto brand, in the late 19th century. Cultured pearls from Japan are known as Akoya pearls and top-grade Akoyas – perfectly round, of appealing sheen and no more than 10mm in diameter – are Empress Masako’s favourite. Wear it like a winner: 5 high jewellery pieces that scream success From iconic strands to brooches to earrings, the luminosity of pearls helps her always appear radiant and glowing. To add subtle visual interest, the empress mixes and matches jewellery designs using different categories of pearls, particularly the South Sea and Akoya types. Princesses in distress: is royalty lagging behind with gender equality? She’s all about understated elegance though: eschewing over-the-top pearl jewellery (particularly pieces with pearls above 15mm in diameter), and instead going for designs set with moderately sized pearls. She often pairs a stylish and simple white South Sea pearl necklace with diamond brooches and studded pearl earrings in a matching colour. Here Empress Masako plays with colour coordination as she pairs an ultra-classic three-strand Akoya pearl necklace with golden South Sea pearl drop earrings, of minimalistic design. She completes the elegant look with an elaborate swirling ribbon brooch with pearls and diamonds. Inside Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s lucrative week in showbiz Few royals make pearl jewellery appear more majestic than Empress Masako. Here at the inauguration ceremony of King Willem Alexander and the ever-elegant Queen Maxima of the Netherlands in 2013, the Japanese royal wore a pair of South Sea pearl earrings, studded with diamonds, and complemented them with an ornate Akoya pearl brooch on top of a sash. Meet Princess Catharina-Amalia, heir to the Dutch royal throne An oddity among Japan’s imperial tiaras, the Pearl Sunburst Tiara is a variant of the classic fringe tiara design with thin diamond rays. A handful of perfectly round pearls in graduating sizes add softness to the design. Why is the tiara coming back in style? At their wedding back in June 1993, then-Crown Princess Masako was crowned with the magnificent Diamond Scroll Tiara, given to her by Empress Michiko, her mother-in-law. Did she choose a British or Italian designer? Inside Kitty Spencer’s royal wedding Draped in sparkling diamonds for maximum pomp and pageantry, Empress Masako is seen here wearing the Meiji Tiara, the most important Western-style heirloom tiara in the imperial collection, with a diamond necklace and earrings. Want more stories like this? Sign up here. Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .