Prince Charles proposed to Princess Diana in early February 1981 without an engagement ring. The royal task on deck: For Di to work with the crown jeweler and choose her own. (A tall order when you’re set to become the future Princess of Wales.) So, how did Diana come to settle on the massive sapphire and diamond sparkler that’s now known as one of the most iconic pieces of jewelry ever produced? We’ve got all the details on Princess Diana’s ring.
She Picked the Ring Out from a Catalog
It was totally taboo—and said to ruffle many a feather at Buckingham Palace—but Princess Diana chose the cluster style (composed of a 12-carat sapphire diamond surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds and set in 18-karat white gold) right out of the Garrard catalog, the crown jeweler at the time. Traditionally, royal rings are bespoke, and given that this was a stock item, any commoner with a cool $60,000 lying around (the cost Prince Charles is estimated to have paid at the time for the ring) could snag the same piece. (How gauche!) But Diana loved her ring so much, she wore it as her “something blue” on her wedding day.
The Ring Did Have Royal Ties
According to Oprah, the ring was actually inspired by a sapphire-and-diamond brooch that Prince Albert had worked with Garrard to create as a gift for Queen Victoria ahead of their wedding day in 1840. (Queen Elizabeth II has even been seen wearing the brooch out and about at royal engagements.) That said, the reason Princess Diana is thought to have selected this particular ring is because it reminded her of her own mother’s engagement ring. (Although others believe Diana, who was 20 at the time, chose it because it had the biggest stone.)
Post-Divorce, She Replaced It With an Aquamarine Bauble
After Princess Diana divorced Prince Charles in 1996, she switched things up, subbing in an emerald cut aquamarine ring with solitaire diamonds and set in 24-karat gold. It was believed to have been commissioned by the princess herself, according to Meghan’s Mirror, and is now worn by Meghan Markle. (Markle famously made heads turn when she stepped out in her reception dress wearing it at her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018.)
Prince William Proposed to Kate Middleton with the Sapphire Ring
It was 2010 and the royal duo was in Kenya on vacation. As William shared in his engagement interview with ITV, he was quite nervous carrying it around given the ties to his late mom. “I had been carrying it around with me in my rucksack for about three weeks before [proposing],” he revealed. “I literally would not let it go. Everywhere I went I was keeping hold of it because I knew this thing, if it disappeared, I would be in a lot of trouble.” He also explained the significance of giving it to Kate: “ Obviously, [my mother isn’t] going to be around to share the fun and excitement of things, so this is my way of keeping her close to it all.”
…Who Is Rumored to Have Had It Altered
Nothing major, but according to CBS, Kate needed it re-sized, so she asked royal jewelers G Collins to fit a couple of platinum beads inside the band for a snugger fit.
The Ring Was Originally Meant for Prince Harry
According to the Amazon Prime documentary The Diana Story, when Princess Diana died in 1997, Prince Harry was allowed to select a piece from his mother’s jewelry collection and he choose her diamond-and-sapphire ring. But when Prince William was getting ready to propose to Middleton, Harry offered it to his brother. Of course, Meghan Markle wasn’t yet in the picture, but the selfless gesture meant Harry wouldn’t be able to give the family heirloom to his own future wife.