The Duchess of Cambridge's jewellery designer Catherine Zoraida on the Kate effect

It’s every designer’s dream. After the Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, wore a pair of gold double-leaf earrings to meet the King of Malaysia in 2012, jewelry designer Catherine Zoraida's life changed almost overnight.

“I was in the car driving home and my phone started to buzz continuously,” she tells Hello! in an exclusive interview.

“I realized that something unusual was happening – but it wasn’t until I got home and logged onto my computer that I saw thousands of pictures of the Duchess in my jewelry – it was so exciting!”

CLICK ON THE PHOTOS TO ENLARGEKate Middleton first wore the earrings in 2012

Speaking about how her royal seal of approval came about, Catherine explained: “I had an extremely exciting call from Buckingham Palace requesting some pieces.

“I didn’t think anything would come of it and a couple of weeks later, when I’d almost forgotten about the parcel, everything exploded!”

Kate then went on to wear the same double leaf earrings several times. She sported the quirky design during her tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2014, and also wore them to the church service at Sandringham on Christmas Day.

She then sported the earring during her tour of Australia and New Zealand

Having set up her jewelry design business just the previous year, Catherine was thus far relatively unknown. But the Duchess’ appearance meant that Catherine was soon to experience ‘the Kate effect’ first hand.

“It was a massive boost to my new business,” she said. “As a young designer it was a dream come true – suddenly Kate was on the front page of newspapers around the world wearing my designs!”

“I now sell jewelry worldwide,” she added. “It was hugely positive and gave me the confidence and resources to push forward.”

Catherine Zoraida, the woman behind the now iconic earrings

Asked whether Kate has inspired any of her new designs, Catherine explained that "seeing her wear my earrings with many different styles of outfit made me realise the importance of simple pieces that are both easy to wear and elegant.

“I now draw on this idea a lot when designing new pieces. I like designs that fit any occasion – Kate wore the earrings in a grass skirt on a beach as well as to dinner with the King of Malaysia!”

Since her contact was with Buckingham Palace, Catherine has not yet met Kate. But, she says, she would “love to have the chance to say thank you at some point.”

Kate also wore the earrings on Christmas Day

Talking about other inspiration for her designs, Catherine revealed that the other famous Kate also has played a part.

“Kate Moss was an icon all through my teenage years – and still is. Frida Kahlo is an artist that has also always drawn my attention and Matthew Williamson is a designer I have loved for years.”

Catherine is now launching her first Fairtrade Gold collection – a range made from Fairtrade gold from Colombia – in time for Valentine’s Day. She is also working towards her dream of having concessions in Bergdorf and Lord and Taylor – watch this space!

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