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.