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Before it became Kate Middleton’s ring, the iconic sapphire and diamond stunner was of course better known as THE Princess Diana ring. It made headlines around the world when a young Diana Spencer announced her engagement to Prince Charles in 1981, for several reasons. Keep reading for your complete guide.
Princess Diana engagement ring
Fans of The Crown will know all about how Princess Diana chose her own engagement ring, thus creating a little controversy.
Prince Charles proposed to Diana at a private dinner at Buckingham Palace, and she originally thought it was a joke.
She told told journalist Andrew Morton, who was working on her biography, ‘He said “Will you marry me?” and I laughed. I remember thinking, this is a joke, and I said “Yeah, OK,” and laughed. He was deadly serious.
Rather than proposing with a ring, the Prince let her pick from a selection put together by the crown jeweller at the time, Garrard. It was an unusual move, because as you might expect, there were plenty of diamonds to choose from in the family vault.
Diana opted for a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire surrounded with 14 solitaire diamonds in a marguerite design, and set in 18-karat white gold. Some say she chose it because it was the biggest, others that it was because it matched her eyes or reminded her of her mother’s engagement ring.
The style, though new, did in fact have a small link to the royal family, as it was inspired by a brooch Prince Albert asked Garrard to create for his future wife Queen Victoria in 1840.
As the ring was part of Garrard’s catalogue, anyone could have ordered the exact same one at the time (well, anyone who had a spare £28k). This apparently raised a few eyebrows within the royal family, as Princess Diana was the first royal bride to not wear a custom-made or unique.
Princess Diana ring worth
In the early 80s, the ring reportedly cost Prince Charles £28,000, which was in itself a very princely sum (pun intended). Now, 40 years later, experts place the value at around £300,000-400,000. This is due to inflation, and no doubt its impressive legacy. Some might even say it’s priceless.
Princess Diana ring change
It turns out Meghan Markle may not have been the first royal to change her engagement ring, she might even have gotten the idea from Princess Diana’s ring. The Duchess of Sussex swapped her plain gold band to a diamond-encrusted some time between the proposal and the wedding.
Princess Diana apparently also altered her sapphire ring slight after Prince Charles proposed. At the time, it was quite controversial for them to choose a brand new custom ring, rather than a ring chosen from the vast royal jewellery collection.
We all know the ring featured a large oval sapphire, surrounded by 14 diamonds, however few people have spotted a slight change made a few years after the engagement.
Originally, the ring featured eight prongs surrounding the sapphire, with two in each corner. A later photograph showed the stone to be surrounded by 14 prongs.
Though no explanation has been given for this, it’s likely that it was simply to secure the stone more thoroughly to avoid losing it.