Kate Middleton Receives Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring

The world’s most famous engagement ring now belongs to the future Queen of England.

Find out about the ring’s shocking history – and the romantic story of Prince William’s surprise proposal.

Princess Diana’s sapphire engagement ring has been a favorite among jewelry lovers since she shocked the world with her non-traditional choice back in 1981. And Prince William wanted to make sure he kept his mother’s legacy alive by giving it a new life on the future Queen of England. “Obviously, she’s not going to be around to share in any of the fun and excitement of it all, so this is my way of keeping her sort of close to it all,” William said of his late mother in a joint interview with Middleton on Tuesday.

The History:

Merchants of fine sapphires from around the world have long sung the virtues on Diana’s ring. The natural blue sapphire weighs in at an astounding 18 carats and is surrounded by 14 small diamonds in a cluster setting. The ring was purchased at Garrard Jewelers, the oldest jewelry house in the world and the official Crown Jeweler for Britain’s royalty.

The jeweler presented Diana with a selection of engagement rings before her wedding to Prince Charles, and this sapphire was her personal choice. By choosing a “catalogue” ring, not a custom-made ring, Diana created a stir among the Royal Family and the public. However, as is the tradition, the bride’s desires overruled any concerns. The ring originally cost about $60,000 but today is valued at over $500,000.

The Love Story:

After Diana’s death, the ring reportedly came into Prince Harry’s possession, while William inherited a Cartier watch. Harry apparently then decided that the ring should be on the finger of the future queen of England and gave it to William to give to Kate. Before leaving on the trip to Kenya during which he proposed to Kate, William took the ring from a royal safe in what Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper described as a “cloak-and-dagger” operation and carried it around with him in his “rucksack” for three weeks in Africa before he finally popped the question. “I literally would not let it go. Everywhere I went, I was keeping ahold of it because I knew, this thing, if it disappeared, I’d be in a lot of trouble,” he said. When asked about wearing such a historic jewel, Middleton replied, “I just hope I look after it.”

Spreading the Sparkle:

The jewelry world has been turned upside down by the news that the sapphire is now ‘the’ hottest engagement ring trend. And the good news for consumers is – they can get a more bang for their bridal buck since gemstones are usually less expensive than the traditional diamond gem. Here are a few of our favorite sapphire sparklers at prices well below the bar set by the royals.

Stay with Jewelry.com for all breaking royal wedding news – and check in with the Jewelry Insider for more big celebrity engagement ring buzz this week.

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