The Somewhat Controversial History Behind Princess Diana’s Iconic Sapphire Ring

The Somewhat Controversial History Behind Princess Diana’s Iconic Sapphire Ring

Princess Diana’s sapphire ring (which now belongs to Kate Middleton) is probably the most famous engagement ring in the world, and the story behind it is pretty unusual. Mostly because—unlike other royal engagement rings—Diana’s wasn’t bespoke. Which apparently caused some slight controversy within the British royal family. That said, the ring was picked out by Prince (now King!) Charles specially for his future bride—in part because of its special connection to Queen Victoria.

clarence house announce the engagement of prince william to kate middleton
A close-up of the ring on Kate Middleton’s finger.WPA Pool - Getty Images

Diana’s Ring Was Sold in a Catalog

In fact, it was featured in the catalog for royal jeweler Garrard back in 1981, meaning it’s possible (probably inevitable) that multiple people have the same ring. And according to Vogue, critics, “including some in the royal family,” weren’t thrilled that Diana’s ring wasn’t custom—but joke’s on them because this is now THE most iconic ring maybe…ever?

charles diana engagement
Diana and Charles during their engagement announcement.Tim Graham - Getty Images

Anyway, Garrard still makes a similar design, which you can buy for $15,000 if you feel the need:

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1735 Sapphire Ring In Platinum with Diamonds



The Design Was Inspired by Queen Victoria’s Brooch

Despite not being custom designed for a royal, Diana’s engagement ring has a special royal connection: It was inspired by a sapphire brooch given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria. The brooch is especially significant because she wore it at their wedding as her “something blue.”

“Queen Victoria absolutely loved sapphires, so Prince Albert always used to buy her sapphires,” House of Garrard told Marie Claire in 2017. “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 House of Garrard had created. When he went to House of Garrard, he saw that ring and thought it was perfect.”

royal ascot 2019 day two
Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images

And fun fact: “Garrard now places a sapphire on the inside of every engagement ring as a nod to the royals’ love of sapphires and also to be the ‘something blue’ on the bride’s wedding day.”

Prince Harry Inherited Diana’s Ring

While Diana’s iconic engagement ring ended up on the Duchess of Cambridge’s finger, it was given to Prince Harry after his mother passed away. But Harry is said to have offered it to Prince William when he was planning to propose to Kate. As Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell explained in the documentary The Diana Story, Harry said to his older brother, “Wouldn’t it be fitting if she had Mummy’s ring? Then one day, that ring will be sat on the throne of England.”

William himself said during his and Kate’s engagement interview that the ring was a way of keeping Diana close and explained, “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.”

It Cost the Then-Prince Charles $$$$

According to Vogue, Charles spent $60,000 on the 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire ring, but I think we can all agree it’s pretty much priceless today!

anwar hussein archive
Anwar Hussein - Getty Images

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