||by Bev Garvin
Prince William announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend, Kate
Middleton, on the 16th of November 2010. The engagement ring he chose
for Kate actually belonged to his late mother, Diana Princess of Wales.
The stunning engagement ring features an 18-carat oval cut blue Ceylon
sapphire center stone, elegantly surrounded by 14 round brilliant
diamonds and is set in 18K white gold.
Princess Diana personally chose this ring for her engagement to
Prince Charles in 1981, from a selection of rings that were presented to
her by the Crown Jeweler, Garrard of Mayfair. Sapphires were one of the
late princess’s favorite gemstones, and it is rumored that she chose
the ring because it reminded her of her mother’s engagement ring. The
ring was an unusual choice that caused a scandal, because the ring had
not been custom designed for the royal engagement, and anyone could
purchase the same ring from the Garrard of Mayfair’s catalog, which sold
for approximately $60,000 (USD), at the time. But Princess Di had an
eye for style even then. When Diana wore the sapphire and diamond
engagement ring, scandal turned into sensation as a sapphire engagement
ring became the engagement ring to have.
Next only to diamonds, sapphires are the second hardest
substance. Sapphires are considered precious gemstones that come in a
full rainbow spectrum of colors from blue to green, yellow, orange, red,
purple and pink to black, white, all kinds of variations of colors in
between and in shade from darkest to lightest. Sapphires are actually
more rare in nature than diamonds are, but they are less expensive
because the demand for sapphires is not as high. Large blue sapphires,
like the 18-carat stone in Princess Diana’s ring, are the most popular
and sought after type of sapphire. They have been the prized possessions
of emperors, kings, queens, and collectors for thousands of years, and
have been a favored by royals above diamonds in engagement rings because
of their rarity.
After Diana’s untimely death in the 1997, her ring was appraised at
approximately $500,000 (USD) because of its connection to the royal
family. William, who eventually inherited the ring from his mother’s
estate, showed the family heirloom is priceless to him by choosing it
for his fiancée. ‘It [the ring] is very special to me, as Kate’s very
special to me. It was right to put the two together.’ he said. ‘It was
my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the
excitement, and the fact that we’re going to spend the rest of our lives
Within moments after William and Kate’s engagement was announced,
the famous ring sparked a sensation once again, as holiday orders for
sapphire jewelry, replicas of the royal ring, and more specifically,
sapphire engagement rings came in at an all-time high, according to
jewelers in New York and all around the world.
The royal wedding date has been set for Prince William and Kate
Middleton’s nuptials. The date to save is Friday, April 29, 2011. The
couple will follow in the footsteps of William’s grandmother, Queen
Elizabeth II, by wedding at London’s historic Westminster Abbey.