Kate and her pearls: The Duchess' secret style weapon

There's no question that the Duchess of Cambridge is an elegant, sophisticated woman. Every time she steps out, the media clamors to cover what she's wearing, and the "Kate Middleton Effect" has both launched and tanked fashion brands. But there's one trick Kate has to ensure you never forget just how sophisticated she is -- and it's hidden in the jewelry she reaches for time and again.

Kate is often spotted wearing a particular dose of elegance: her pearl drop earrings. We know, we know, pearls aren't exactly groundbreaking or new -- in fact, they're the opposite. But that's why they're such a key element of Kate's wardrobe.

See also: Princess Diana's former royal butler: Kate 'has a lot to be thankful for'

She wears pearls in a variety of styles (like these oversized pearl studs from Balenciaga), but there's one style that is definitely her favorite. As you'll see below, she sure loves her pearl drops.

Pearls, according to the American Gem Society, are a "symbol of beauty and purity," and the Daily Mail reports that they're also synonymous with "innocence," so they're a natural fit for anyone in Kate's royal position. They're a timeless style, and can be paired with just about any outfit and look perfect. For example, Kate has worn her pearls with just about every color, and with solid hues, bold patterns, even lace.

Kate's go-to pearls are a gorgeous baroque style (how experts refer to "misshapen" pearls -- but they're no less stunning) that hangs from a small diamond and gold hoop. Her favorites are by Annoushka and retail for $420, and she pairs them with Kiki McDonough hoops (£600, or about $730).

The Duchess has also been spotted wearing a more affordable alternative -- the Heavenly Necklaces 'Pearl and Diamond' Earrings (£58 or $70).

Kate may be taking cues from her elders on this one, too, as the Queen is often seen wearing pearls, and Princess Diana also loved them. After all, Princess Diana's favorite tiara featured several long pearl drops, and Kate has now worn that tiara twice.

Move over, diamonds. Pearls are moving in.

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Related: Kate's most dazzling jewelry: