Princess Diana’s sapphire engagement ring, now adorning the finger of Kate Middleton, is arguably the most renowned engagement ring globally, and its history carries a unique twist. Unlike many other royal engagement rings, Diana’s ring was not a bespoke creation. This departure from tradition sparked a degree of controversy within the British royal family. Nevertheless, the ring held a special significance as it was chosen by Prince Charles himself, partly due to its historical link to Queen Victoria.
Diana’s Ring: A Catalog Find
Remarkably, Princess Diana’s engagement ring made its appearance in the catalog of the royal jeweler Garrard back in 1981. This means that it was publicly available, and there may be multiple individuals with identical rings. According to Vogue, certain critics, including some within the royal family, expressed reservations about the ring not being custom-made. Little did they know that this ring would go on to become one of the most iconic engagement rings in history.
Interestingly, a similar design is still offered by Garrard today, allowing admirers to purchase a piece of royal-inspired jewelry for around $15,000.
Inspiration from Queen Victoria
Although Diana’s ring was not custom-crafted for a royal engagement, it possesses a profound royal connection. Its design was inspired by a sapphire brooch presented by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria. This brooch holds special significance as Queen Victoria wore it as her “something blue” at her wedding.
The House of Garrard, the royal jeweler, shed light on this inspiration, stating, “Queen Victoria absolutely loved sapphires, so Prince Albert always used to buy her sapphires. There’s a very famous sapphire brooch which Queen Elizabeth wears regularly, passed down from Queen Victoria. That was the inspiration for the sapphire engagement ring that the Duchess of Cambridge wears. Prince Charles had always seen this beautiful sapphire brooch of his mother’s, which the House of Garrard had created. When he went to House of Garrard, he saw that ring and thought it was perfect.”
As a charming addition, Garrard includes a sapphire on the inside of every engagement ring, paying homage to the royal affinity for sapphires and serving as the bride’s “something blue” on her wedding day.
An Heirloom Passed Down
After Princess Diana’s passing, her iconic engagement ring found a new home with her younger son, Prince Harry. However, Prince Harry generously offered the ring to his older brother, Prince William, when he was preparing to propose to Kate Middleton. In the documentary “The Diana Story,” Princess Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell, recounted Harry’s sentiment to William: “Wouldn’t it be fitting if she had Mummy’s ring? Then one day, that ring will be sat on the throne of England.”
Prince William, in their engagement interview with Kate, shared the sentimental significance of the ring, expressing, “It’s my mother’s engagement ring, so I thought it was quite nice because obviously, she’s not going to be around to share in any of the fun and excitement of all this. This is my way of keeping her sort of close to it all.”
A Priceless Symbol of Love
While Prince Charles reportedly spent $60,000 on the 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire ring at the time, its value today transcends any price tag. It has become a cherished symbol of enduring love, heritage, and a touching connection to the late Princess Diana, making it a truly priceless piece of royal history.