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The Royal Ring: the Princess Diana Engagement Ring

by Sally
Last updated on February 25, 2022

Princess Diana is famous for her sublime taste in jewelry, most notably the Princess Diana engagement ring. Diana’s famous engagement ring is an iconic piece of jewelry history that has inspired brides since its debut in 1981.

Royal family admirers now see her daughter-in-law Kate Middleton sporting the dazzling sapphire and diamond ring on her ring finger. However, Princess Diana’s engagement ring has a history that is decades-long.

An Engagement Ring for the People’s Princess

Many British royal family enthusiasts don’t know that Princess Diana chose the famous engagement ring we know today. Prince Charles went the untraditional route with his proposal by allowing Princess Diana to pick her own engagement ring.

The Marguerite ring included a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire which was surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds and set in 18-karat white gold. Ceylon, which is now called Sri Lanka, describes the center diamond’s origin.

The size of the sapphire center stone is what makes Princess Diana’s ring so magnificent. Prince Harry once said, “I remember when I held mummy’s hand when I was a small boy and that ring always hurt me because it was so big.”

Some people believe that Diana chose this ring with a sapphire because it reminded her of her mother’s engagement ring, and others think that it was just the one with the biggest stone. Some speculators think Diana picked the sapphire because it matched her eyes. Whatever the reason, she loved it and now so does the rest of the world.  

Tension in the Royal Family

Despite the fact that the precious gem on the ring was quite expensive ($37,000) and exclusive, some people within the royal family still took issue with Diana’s choice.

The issue became that the ring was displayed in the Garrard catalog, as well as on Diana’s finger. The royals took that to mean that it was not ‘exclusive’ enough for their family. Most royals have their rings custom-made so that they are extra special.

People did not enjoy the fact that Diana was flaunting a ring that was so accessible to the public. But people quickly came to realize that Diana was not one to conform to all of the Royal rules and that she was not one to give in.

The Ring’s Royal Influence

When it was made, the crown jeweler Garrard was reportedly inspired by the sapphire-and-diamond cluster brooch that was made for Prince Albert in 1840 to give to Queen Victoria as a wedding present. 

Queen Victoria later donned that brooch as her “something blue” on her wedding day. The same sapphire brooch has since been spotted on Queen Elizabeth II multiple times.  

In addition, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother also sported a blue engagement ring. Diana continued the tradition with her iconic blue stone.

The Ring’s First Public Appearance

On February 6th, 1981, Princes Charles popped the question to Lady Diana Spencer while enjoying a private dinner inside Buckingham Palace. Princess Diana and Prince Charles finally stepped out a few weeks later for their official engagement photo op.

The public got to see Diana’s gorgeous engagement ring, which they had all been waiting for. Diana reportedly purchased her bright blue suit from Harrod’s herself.

Princess Diana’s Jewelry Collection

Princess Diana’s engagement ring may be her most prolific piece of jewelry, but her sparkling collection has inspired jewelers and customers alike for over 40 years.

The Spencer Tiara

The Spencer Tiara was a favorite of Princess Diana. The family heirloom belonged to Diana’s father John Spencer, Eighth Earl of Spencer. Diana wore the tiara on her wedding day to Prince Charles, pairing the tiara with her David and Elizabeth Emanuel wedding gown.

Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, Princess Diana’s sisters, also wore the tiara on their wedding days.

The Queen Mary Lover’s Knot Tiara

House of Garrard designed the Lover’s Knot tiara for Queen Mary in 1913. Queen Mary commissioned the tiara because she loved the original Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, worn by her aunt the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Queen Elizabeth II then presented the tiara to Princess Diana prior to her wedding ceremony. Diana favored this tiara, often pairing it with her signature feathered hairstyle.

Now, the Queen Mary Lover’s Knot Tiara is a favorite of Kate Middleton. Kate frequently wears the tiara to royal functions and appearances.

The Queen Mother’s Sapphire Brooch

Diana famously wore several pearl chokers. One of her reported favorites was the diamond and sapphire brooch that once belonged to Queen Mary. Diana converted the brooch to a pearl choker using seven strands of pearls on numerous occasions.

She most notably wore the pearl and sapphire choker after her divorce from Prince Charles. She paired the necklace with the “revenge dress” that she sported when Prince Charles announced his affair.

Emerald-Cut Aquamarine Ring

Princess Diana loved the sapphire blue ring and even wore it after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996. After that, she started wearing a gorgeous emerald-cut aquamarine ring instead, which she bought for herself. 

Asprey designed this stunning ring so that Diana had something to wear on her ring finger post-divorce. Jewelers estimate that the aquamarine is 30 carats.

Inheriting Diana’s Jewelry

After the tragic death of Diana in 1997, her sons Prince William and Prince Harry inherited not just Diana’s ring her entire jewelry collection. 

The late princess wrote in her will “I would like you to allocate all my jewellery to the share to be held by my sons, so that their wives may, in due course, have it or use it. I leave the exact division of the jewellery to your discretion.”

Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Originally, Prince William inherited his mother’s Cartier watch. He then asked to have the famous sapphire ring to present to Kate Middleton, even though Prince Harry had originally chosen it for himself. Harry made the trade with his brother for his mother’s watch.  

It’s been said that he carried his mother’s ring in his backpack for three weeks before Prince William proposed to his beloved while vacationing in Mount Kenya in October of 2010.  

Prince William said in 2010, “It’s very special, as Kate is very special. It’s my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement.” Princess Diana’s engagement ring is a perfect choice for Kate Middleton because she is the future queen.

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

Meghan Markle’s engagement ring is a touching tribute to the late Princess of Wales. When Prince Harry designed the ring for his future wife, he sourced the center diamond of the three-stone ring from Botswana. He then completed the design with two diamonds from Princess Diana’s collection to frame the center stone.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wore another special ring to her wedding reception in 2018. She sported her late mother-in-law’s aquamarine ring on her right ring finger.

Get the Look of Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring

If you are looking for rings that resemble the shape and style of Princess Diana’s two showstopper rings, then check out our ethically-made diamond engagement rings.

Sapphire Engagement Ring

Many brides want to replicate the look of Princess Diana’s engagement ring since its fashionable debut. Here are some engagement rings that feature homages to the original while still maintaining a unique flair.

Chaleur Oval Ring 

The Chaleur Oval Ring captures the timeless beauty of Princess Diana’s famous ring. The pavé band adds an extra touch of royalty: this band has a total of 92 diamonds.

Spiaggia Oval Ring

The Spiaggia Oval Ring features a pavé band and oval center diamond, which is surrounded by two smaller diamonds. The showstopper on this ring is the intricate metalwork that holds the diamonds in place.

Aquamarine Solitaire Ring

Many brides want engagement rings that feature a stunning diamond. For a diamond that is just as sparkly as the royal jewels, check out these picks.

Antique Solitaire Ring 

This Antique Solitaire Ring is a dazzling modern take on Diana’s emerald-cut ring. The high polish cathedral shoulders and antique filigree-style profile create a stunning look.

Pilar Solitaire Ring

What made Princess Diana’s aquamarine so magnificent was its size and simplicity. Recreate her look with this emerald-cut diamond ring and classic white gold band.