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The Tale of Princess Diana's Iconic Engagement Ring

Princess of Wales wearing the most iconic engagement ring

Every piece of history there's a story to tell. Whether it's amusing, astounding or simply ordinary, the tale is often valued for its significance, meaning and impact to people's curiosity and well, consciousness. 

But what if it's a piece of jewelry?

It might not be as ground-breaking as the tale of royal residences of the Queen or as surprising as the misadventures of some royals, but the engagement ring worn by the late Princess of Wales earned its own place in history as the most iconic engagement ring in modern times.

The most iconic engagement ring in the world today

It represents so many things, and Diana herself during her lifetime considered it as one of her most valuable personal items because it was personally chosen by her.

Sounds bizarre isn't it? Yes, considering that it's an engagement ring supposed to be a surprise symbol of love for the bride from her future groom.

But the story of this exquisite and stunning Oval-shaped Ceylon sapphire engagement ring is both fascinating, sad and tragic, so as every analyst had thought.

The Strange Marriage Proposal

Well, by standard, engagement ring often associated to the social status and wealth of the groom and his future bride. Because engagement ring symbolizes a man's avowal of love to his fiancee, it is often comes with a unique design, mostly custom-made handpicked by the future groom.

However, when the most eligible bachelor in the world in 1981 proposed to his young and beautiful aristocratic girlfriend one night in February 1981, that path of a fairytale romance did not go well.

Prince Charles and Lady Diana during the announcement of their engagement

Unlike most men caught by the love bug, the future King of the United Kingdom seemed not prepared to pop the question and declare his intention to marry sealed with an exquisite ring.

Prince Charles reportedly apologized to Lady Diana Spencer for not having a ring that night.


He promised to give her one in the coming days, and Diana gladly accepted.

The next day, Garrard, the Crown Jeweller, came to Buckingham Palace with a tray of glittery rings for Diana to choose.

Engagement photo taken by Lord Snowdon, Princess Margaret's husband

The future Princess of Wales picked her own engagement ring from a jewelry catalog which can be possibly bought by anyone who had cash at that time.

Right at that moment, many believed, Prince Charles' obvious action was a sign of a doomed romance. But Lady Diana, as innocent as she was, did not mind the inconveniences, she was happy to marry the man she loved.


The ring, which would become the world's most popular engagement ring later in the decade, is a stunning 12-carat Ceylon Sapphire set in an 18-carat white gold band surrounded with 14 solitaire diamonds. It was valued at 75,000 Pound Sterling at that time.

The Significance of Diana's Choice

Many theories have emerged later why Diana chose the ring. Some would say due to its size and unique design, others claimed it's because of the significance the ring symbolized.


We never know exactly, but this theory might have some weight. The sapphire ring matched Diana's favorite color blue which also reflected the color of her eyes.

It also had some historical significance. Diana might have chosen it to honor Queen Victoria, who wore a brooch sapphire in her wedding day in 1839. 

Criticism on the ring

The Prince of Wales drew flack the way he proposed to Lady Diana and the way he let her chose the engagement ring.

Like most cultured men in his generation, he was expected to be more relevant and romantic, afterall it's about marriage.

He could have prepared ahead of time to purchase a ring to seal his intention to marry. The way he did it sounded disrespectful to his future bride and came in a bad taste.

His action was very callous and lacked sincerity. It even got worst when he let her chose a ring from a catalog which could be purchased by anyone. 

The prince bizarre action was viewed as total lack of honest intention and affection. The ring was regarded as a sign of loveless romance and doomed marriage. 

In contrast, Diana treasured the ring

However, Diana considered the ring as one of her most loved personal items. Regardless how it was viewed by the public and how it was perceived to be doomed.

For her, it symbolized romance, she loved her engagement ring so much because it was personally chosen by her.'

She wore it everyday of her life even after her divorce from Prince Charles.


Following her death in 1997, her butler, Paul Burrell, asked Prince William and Prince Harry which Diana's personal item they wanted to take.

Prince William chose the gold Cartier watch which Diana wore everyday. It was a birthday present of Earl Spencer to Diana in her 21st birthday. 

He knew it was one of Diana's favorite watches in her collection. It was not known however if the prince wore the jewelry or just for safekeeping. 

Prince Harry chose the engagement ring. He said, "I want the ring that most loved by mummy where she would often complain being hurt in the finger because it was big".

Engagement photo of Prince William and Kate Middleton, 2010

Years later, the two brothers made an agreement that whoever will marry first will have the ring. In 2010, when William planned to propose to Kate Middleton, Harry gave it to him.

Today's current wearer

The ring was readjusted to fit in Kate's finger. And due to Middleton's non-aristocratic commoner background, Diana's favorite ring now is being called "the commoner's ring".


The Duchess of Cambridge is often seen in public wearing the ring which she put in her right ring finger together with her wedding ring. 

Prince William chose not to wear an engagement ring like most of the Windsor men.

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