The State of the Precious

One of the close-up photos of Princess Diana’s engagement ring taken during the 75th Anniversary of the RAF Air Cadets Kate attended has caused some concern among royal watchers that Princess Diana’s engagement ring might have been damaged by Kate or was perhaps a cheap knock-off.


What looks like a tarnished silver band is nothing more than the effect of camera flashes bouncing off of the Welsh gold wedding band next to it.  There are pictures of Princess Diana wearing her engagement ring with the same bounced light effects.


Princess Diana’s engagement ring is a 12 carat oval Ceylon sapphire surrounded by fourteen  diamonds set in 18kt white gold.  The then Lady Diana Spencer selected the ring in February 1981 from a tray with other sapphire rings from Garrard’s collection.  The ring was not unique and could be purchased by anyone with the £28,000 to spend on it.  As soon as the first photos were released, the 80s became plagued by cheap knock-offs.

Initially, the ring came with eight prongs, but by December 1981, six additional prongs were added to Princess Diana’s engagement ring.


Princess Diana was reportedly concerned the sapphire would slip out of its original setting.  While I’m not a fan of the ring to begin with, the adding of prongs to me creates visual imbalance, especially since a couple of the added prongs were somewhat oddly angled. This imperfection in reinforcement, however, helps with gauging the authenticity of Diana’s engagement ring.

On the left is Diana’s engagement ring  on Princess Diana’s finger, on the right is the ring on Kate’s finger.  The prongs line up perfectly.


If Kate wears a copy of Princess Diana’s engagement ring, it has been flawlessly executed.  While it’s not uncommon for some women to make copies  of their own jewels which have enormous financial, historical or sentimental value, having compared numerous photos of the ring on each wearer, I believe Kate has and wears the real deal.

In the engagement interview, Prince William confirmed, “It’s my mother’s engagement ring.  So I thought it was quite nice because obviously she’s not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all – this was my way of keeping her sort of close to it all.”

Reaction to Kate wearing Princess Diana’s engagement ring was mixed when the engagement was announced, many wondering why a future bride would even want to wear ring from such an unhappy union.  The ring is so closely identified with Princess Diana that almost five years into Kate’s marriage, it is still referred  to as Princess Diana’s ring.  By the way Kate seems to consciously keep her engagement ring displayed at events, it seems fairly safe to assume she is fine with  wearing a dated ring which seems incongruous to her individual style and personality.  But even if she wasn’t, changing the setting was likely not even an option for Kate who could have had a spectacular Art Deco-inspired setting made for the oval  sapphire.  Many women won’t wear engagement rings from marriages that ended in divorce but there are some who believe the “curse” or “bad energy” can be broken up by changing the setting.


The sapphire and its diamonds could also be used in a setting such as this:


The orientation of the stone could  also be switched with diamonds used  in the band, similar to this Jes MaHarry ring.  But had Kate dared to change the setting, she likely would have received a tremendous amount of backlash.


Many people are superstitious about gems, including the British Royal Family which is apprehensive  about  using  rubies for engagement rings  because the stone is associated with a death and two divorces in the family.  No male heir to the British throne has ever worn the Koh-i-Noor diamond because of the gender-specific Hindu curse which is said to bring misfortune to any man who wears it.  But Prince William is either more sentimental or cheaper than he is superstitious and so the ring remains a symbol  of a doomed romance and a bright light tragically extinguished on the finger of a woman associated with Waityness and laziness.

Kate appears to take care of Princess Diana’s ring, heeding Prince William’s warning issued during the engagement interview, “If she loses it she’s in big trouble.”  Before her wedding, Kate had the ring resized because it became loose on her finger when she lost weight.  The eternity band she wears is rumored to be extra insurance against the ring slipping off.

Sapphires are a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, second only to diamonds, so they are extremely difficult but not impossible to scratch.   The ring is 18kt so it is 75% gold mixed with other alloys.  White gold is typically coated with rhodium which wears down over time.  Many jewelers recommend bringing in engagement rings once a year to be professionally cleaned and checked since hand lotion, soaps, household cleaners and even a body’s natural oils can damage rings.  Given how Kate appears to avoid anything involving effort with a staff to handle the household tasks which can be the most damaging to rings, Princess Diana’s ring on Kate’s finger probably isn’t all that much different than if it were resting inside a vault.


signature copy

33 thoughts on “The State of the Precious”

  1. I think he meant well giving it to her. Maybe he thought Diana’s popularity would rub off on kate with the people of England. Or simply trying to bring his mother vack…which means he’s fried mentally which could be why katy is so ‘keen’ to be poster girl fir childhood mental illness. Honestly the ring he gave her when they were dating I did not care for…and I think it was a garnet like chip..

    Given he was a prince, and it was a token of his affection, for what was a serious relationship I thought it was pretty uninspiring…it almost looks like those tiny rings you can buy a baby. The ring thing is just weird. I am somewhat superstitious and would not be ‘keen’ to wear Diana’s ring after she died in such a tragic, bloody way. Pass.

    1. Sadly, the Victorian ruby and garnet ring Prince William gave Kate back in 2005 was probably his most romantic gesture to date as it contained both of their birthstones (garnet for Kate, pearl for William). And you are correct, this design with the small inexpensive garnet stones and seed pearls was very popular in baby rings from around 1870-1890. William does call Kate “Babykins” and “Poppet” so perhaps that has something to do with it. I have an appreciation for antique jewelry but I’ve received far nicer pieces from men I wasn’t romantically involved with so as a gift from a prince to a long-term girlfriend, the Victorian ring is a bit underwhelming.

  2. Cheap william, does he ever buy his fake wife anything, this charade of marriage needs to end, did kate sell her soul for titles living in palaces and the good life shes one cold mean chick!/!

    1. Kate’s mother sold her daughter’s soul for ‘titles living in palaces and the good life’, but Kate was all too happy to go along with the plan. Kate is an empty vessel.

  3. It wasn’t the best idea of William’s to bring the ring out of retirement as well as keep the existing setting; he could have thought that through with a little more sensitivity to its new owner. I think he wanted that ring to be intact as a memorial to his mother; a genuine gesture on one hand, but also an unnecessary burden to bring to a marriage. Kate, after such a dogged pursuit of her prince, would hardly demur and probably thought she’d struck pay dirt anyway. To someone else, it would be a constant reminder not only of a famously failed relationship but also a symbol of unresolved loss experienced by William. Either way, not emotionally healthy.

  4. After Diana died, press reports said that each boy got to o pick one memento. William took her watch that she had used to teach him to tell time. Harry picked the ring. How did William end up with it to give to Kate?

    1. That’s a mystery that’s never been solved. There are two primary theories. Either William just took it or Harry told him that whomever gets engaged first can use their Mum’s engagement ring. That’s definitely one of those BRF mysteries to which I’d love to know the real answer. There was an attempt to suggest Harry wanted Kate to have it as the future Queen but based on comments Harry has made, he didn’t seem to know Kate well enough at that point to suddenly feel she should wear his mother’s ring.

      1. Press had William and Harry explaining that William went to Harry and asked if he could have the ring for Kate right before Africa.
        I often wonder if it was a case of someone putting the idea in his head to ask for it. William was going on about missing Diana and how she would not be at his wedding…the ring would be a stand in for Diana. I think harry just bowed to the request as you mentioned…he is not always treated well by William who takes some shots which Harry rolls with…I think they are close but I think there’s more to them than what we know or see…Harry has loved chelsy forever…I’m sure they discussed it at some point and Chelsy probably told Harry at some point let it go…no she would not want to wear that over his own personal pick of a ring….truth is that ring is neither his style or Chelsy’s…Even tho they split…I think Harry’s choices have been women who naturally don’t gravitate to that style of ring anyway. And I personally think he can’t find anyone as he is still hoping for Chelsy. Harrys appearances are less and less as well…I believe if he could fade into the woodwork he would just so he could marry her and not have her hounded or be on BRF demand. William it was said “worked” it out with Harry probably giving Harry something else of Diana’s of value…he also might still have the necklace and earrings that went with the ring…who knows…

  5. The juxtaposition of Diana’s sapphire engagement ring with Kate’s bandaged finger in that photograph is an interesting one. In the future, looking back on this image, there might be symbolism to be found in it, or not.

  6. It’s tradition in my family to hand down engagement rings, so I don’t feel any particular superstition about them. Besides, it really says a lot about the “state of the union” if people start preemptively blaming a chunk of metal and rock for their future marital strife. I personally prefer the sapphire with prongs than in a bezel, but I agree it looks old-fashioned either way. However, if I were truly in love with someone and the ring had deep personal meaning, then I don’t think I would insist upon it being perfectly “me”.

  7. I really like the Art Deco setting! Yes, please!! I’d take that in platinum, with a wider band!

    I have never really liked Diana’s ring, I think it has way too many prongs on it, and I hate how Kate poses with it. Honestly, she needs to just get over herself……

    1. I really like that setting, too, but I’ve always been a huge fan of Art Deco.

      Honestly, if I suffered from some head-trauma that made waiting around for a decade for a man seem like an okay idea, I’d probably have uplighting installed on my shoes to show off the ring. Getting William to propose was basically the only thing Kate’s ever accomplished.

  8. She reworked the earrings right off the bat. If she could have, I think she would have updated the ring as well. Must have been a no go situation. I loved the Art Deco setting you gave as an example, though I don’t think it’s Kate’s style. She’s more of a currant plain Jane, judging by her other jewelry choices.

    1. Supposedly, those sapphire earrings aren’t Diana’s. I spoke to someone a while back who indicated the sapphire earrings and the emerald earrings were an engagement gift from Kate’s parents who had them specially made. Princess Diana never had such small emeralds and the individual indicated that there were differences in the size of the stones in Kate and Diana’s sapphire earrings, the color and clarity are better on Diana’s diamonds and something about “points” that I can’t remember.

      Obviously, I can never be 100% certain about information provided to me anonymously but the level of knowledge this individual possessed suggested professional jeweler. I’ve wondered if it was the jeweler who made the earrings and got screwed over in some way by Carole, but for all I know, the person could have been a stoned college student making it up.

      I do believe it, though. The executors of Diana’s will obtained a variance which delayed distribution of Diana’s personal property until both princes turned 30. After Princess Diana’s death, both boys selected a personal item that had belonged to their mother, Harry chose Diana’s engagement ring, William picked her Cartier watch, somewhere along the way they swapped. It’s possible the Princes didn’t even have access to her other jewelry until a year and a half ago, assuming all of it even went to them, the execution of Diana’s will was quite a mess:

      I read something somewhere which suggested Diana wanted Harry to have most of her personal jewels, as William’s future wife would have access to the big bling, but that’s just internet gossip.

    1. At some point I’m going to do a post on “cursed gems” like the Hope Diamond. I’ve seen the Hope Diamond and it doesn’t give off a cursed vibe but considering how quickly Kate has aged since she’s been wearing the Precious, there could be some dark energy in that rock.

      1. There have been some interesting books (and movies) with gemstones creating mystery and intrigue. The Blue Water from Beau Geste comes to mind as does Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone, and, more recently, the gem in All The Light We Cannot See.

  9. Kate uses The Ring as a trophy/reminder that stalking pays. She strikes the most contrived poses with it front and centre (see pics on hospital steps with baby Charlotte) to remind us that she snagged a prince and we didn’t, hahahahaha!

    1. Oh, you mean how she was holding her baby with one hand not supporting her head so she could flash the ring? So that’s not something most “hands-on” Mums do? I’m surprised she didn’t try to spin the kid on her ring finger as if she were a basketball.

  10. Interesting post Lola. I hope Kate is looking after Big Blue, it’s so big that it probably does catch on things.
    The top photo does make the sapphire look like a hunk of glass, must be the angle of the photo/ light hitting it etc?

    1. Thanks, Cathy. It does look like it catches on things, Princess Diana swapped out Big Blue for a simple solitaire in this photoshoot because she was concerned the ring would scratch William’s skin:

      The stone looks brighter when it’s hit from the side with a flash.

      It’s an interesting ring. Sometimes in photos taken straight on, I see ghostly faces in the ring. I assume these faces are actually the reflections of the photographers and not teeny tiny sapphire ghosts.

      1. In the picture of Diana holding baby William, William has that same furrowed brow, scowl expression we’ve seen in George.

  11. ms lola, the saying goes the bloom is off, of course when she did the strut down the runway, the petals flew everywhere!!!!

  12. I read on here – in the comments – a few days back where someone suggested that she had copies of the ring that she wore for outings.

    I believe it; it’s not too hard to get exact replicas with the same number of prongs made.

    Personally, I think William was a cheapskate for giving her a hand-me-down ring. Sure, people do hand rings down among generations but I still think it’s cheap. In this case especially though, given the amount of unhappiness in Charles and Diana’s marriage, it’s an extra-bad omen. Besides, I bet she never really feels that it’s ‘hers’; it will always be Diana’s/William’s, but she’s allowed to wear it. Bugger that.

    1. Yeah I get that feeling too…let’s face it if they were to divorce she would have to return it. Something off about that…but that family is strange.

    2. Of course willnot was cheap, lazy and unromantic with waity and carole – why bother if one settle for a decade used family of stalkers whose interest is a title.

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