Tag Archives: Mary of Burgundy

A Royal Excuse To Talk About Diamonds

There are some conflicting reports about the status of Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas’ relationship.  Some are claiming an engagement is imminent while others are speculating that the adorable couple have already split because Cressida was a no-show at the Walking with the Wounded charity event she was reportedly co-hosting with Prince Harry.  Ladies, don’t start bedazzling “I Heart Gingers” t-shirts just yet, there are several legitimate reasons that could explain why Cressy wasn’t there.  First of all, it’s possible she was never actually going to co-host with him at all and that was just a rumor.  Secondly, it’s possible she was sick or had a family emergency.  Or maybe it was because everyone is so eager lately to make their every glance proof that they are marriage-bound, Cressida didn’t want to take the focus off the cause.   When you love someone, you think about things like that.  Recently I made a similar decision, I was concerned my presence could cause distracting speculation that would have been inappropriate for the occasion.  Sometimes the best way to support someone you love is to not be by his side.

It’s understandable why there’s so much excitement over the possibility of Prince Harry getting engaged.  Women especially love engagements, not only because they are celebrations of love, but they also give us a reason to talk about diamonds.

A diamond is really just a mineral made up of repeating units of carbon atoms joined to other carbon atoms by a covalent bond.  Contrary to popular belief, diamonds do not come from coal.  What makes a diamond a girl’s best friend is the high refractive index and dispersion coefficient.  In layman’s terms, light makes them sparkly.

Despite their durability as the hardest mineral, diamonds haven’t always been the go-to choice for engagement rings.  Before the discovery of African diamond mines in the 1870s, diamonds were incredibly rare and expensive.  The most commonly used stones for engagement rings were rubies and opals.  It wasn’t until the late 1930s that diamonds became a popular choice for engagement rings.

The first ever diamond engagement ring was given to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 by Archduke Maximilian of Austria, the diamonds formed the letter M.  The ring sparked a trend among nobility to use diamonds in engagement rings, often incorporating other colored gemstones.  One of the most exquisite diamond/ruby engagement ring combinations was given to Princess Märtha of Sweden by fiancé (and cousin) Crown Prince Olav of Norway in 1928.  It is now worn by Princess Mette-Marit.

Princess Märtha of Sweden's Engagement Ring

Princess Märtha of Sweden’s Engagement Ring

In the British Monarchy, engagement rings with both sapphires and diamonds were the choice for several royal brides including The Queen Mother, Princess Anne, Princess Diana and Duchess Catherine who wears Princess Diana’s ring.  When Princess Diana passed away, Princes William and Harry each were told to select an item that had belonged to their mother.  Prince William chose her Cartier watch, Prince Harry selected her sapphire engagement ring.  Eventually they swapped so Prince William could propose to Kate Middleton with the twelve carat sapphire that had belonged to his mother.

Princess Diana's Engagement Ring

Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring

For Prince Harry’s future wife, that leaves the door open for a new ring.  Princess Diana’s engagement ring is very elegant, but there’s a formality to it that I just can’t see on any girl Harry winds up.  Prince Harry likes the kind of girls who would go camping on purpose.  Adventurous, kind, low-maintenance and of course, blonde.

The “traditional” diamond engagement ring as we know it is actually the creation of diamond cartel De Beers’ marketing campaign that began in 1938.  In 1947, De Beers they introduced the “A Diamond is Forever” slogan that has become part of betrothal’s collective unconscious.  As an enduring symbol of everlasting love, the suggested amount of money that should be spent on the diamond increased from one month of a man’s salary to two.   The diamond engagement ring became a symbol of a man’s socioeconomic status.

These days, engagement rings are more about the women wearing them.  They should reflect her personal style and lifestyle.  More and more women are deciding they aren’t the solitaire types.  The Tiffany and Cartier diamond engagement rings girls used to oooh and aaah over seem a bit uninspired.  Trends are returning to the pre-De Beers campaign days with colored stones being used more and more.  Rings have more personal meaning beyond how much the fiancé makes.

Even though I’ve declined a few marriage proposals (and accepted that one where I assumed he was joking), I never really gave much thought to what kind of engagement ring I would want if I ever did say yes.  Until one day I stumbled across this, my fantasy engagement ring which also comes in white gold and yellow gold.

"Gatsby" Ring in Rose Gold Designer: Heidi Gibson www.heidigibson.com

“Gatsby” Ring in Rose Gold
Designer: Heidi Gibson
www.heidigibson.com

And there’s even a more cost-effective white sapphire and diamond version.

"Gatsby Ring" in White Gold with White Sapphire Designer: Heidi Gibson www.heidigibson.com

“Gatsby Ring” in White Gold with White Sapphire
Designer: Heidi Gibson
www.heidigibson.com

This designer, Heidi Gibson, is a GENIUS.  She creates beautiful pieces at all different price points, offering different size stones and different gems, working within customer budgets and customizing it for the individual.  That kind of flexibility and personalization is what the soon-to-be betrothed are looking for these days.

"Lindy" Ring in Gold with Morganite Designer: Heidi Gibson www.heidigibson.com

“Lindy” Ring in Gold with Morganite
Designer: Heidi Gibson
www.heidigibson.com

One of my favorite engagement rings that moves even further away from the traditional styles of the last seventy years adorns the ring finger of model, socialite and Princess Eugenie pal, Poppy Delevingne.  Unique, yet romantic with its two heart-shaped diamonds flanking the center stone.

Poppy Delevingne's Engagement Ring

Poppy Delevingne’s Engagement Ring

Poppy Delevingne and Prince Harry’s present girlfriend, Cressida, both have a boho-chic aesthetic sense.  Cressida tends to gravitate towards more organic style with romantic prints and flowers in her hair.  A simple solitaire isn’t going to cut it for this boho-chic kitten should she and Prince Harry decide to take a walk down the aisle.  I could see Cressida going for a modern take on floral-inspired engagement rings that became popular in the Victorian era and have been reinterpreted throughout the years.

BeautifulPetra on Etsy has some gorgeous flower-inspired rings, like the Flower Rose Diamond Engagement Ring:

Flower Rose Engagement Ring Designer: BeautifulPetra Available on Etsy

Flower Rose Engagement Ring
Designer: BeautifulPetra
Available on Etsy

The Love in Bloom Ring:

Love in Bloom Ring Designer: BeautifulPetra Available on Etsy

Love in Bloom Ring
Designer: BeautifulPetra
Available on Etsy

And the Rose Diamond Engagement Ring.

Rose Diamond Engagement Ring Designer: BeautifulPetra Available on Etsy

Rose Diamond Engagement Ring
Designer: BeautifulPetra
Available on Etsy

Of course, Prince Harry could always go rooting around in the Royal Family jewelry box to see what gorgeous bauble might be available should he and Cressida choose to become engaged.  The Queen Mother stopped wearing her sapphire engagement ring in favor of a pearl ring around 1950, and I don’t believe that ring has been used by anyone else.  If Prince Harry was looking for an opal engagement ring, he would be hard pressed to find one, the Royal Family is very superstitious about their gems.  Opals are believed by some to bring bad luck to a marriage unless they are surrounded by diamonds or worn by a bride born in the month of October so the British Royal Family steers clear.  They even are apprehensive about rubies in engagement rings, a superstition unique to the House of Windsor.  Given that opals and rubies were the most common stones used in engagement rings by the masses prior to the 1930s, it’s possible the commonness of the stone is what made rubies undesirable to the Royal Family and is at the root of that superstition.  In 1960, Princess Margaret accepted the ruby and diamond engagement ring shaped to look like a rose from Antony Armstrong-Jones.  The marriage ended in divorce, which did not help the ruby’s image in royal eyes.  Of course, the unhappy marriage could have in part been due to Princess Margaret still not being over Peter Townsend, with whom she fell madly in love and wanted to marry but her sister, Queen Elizabeth II, refused to grant permission on the grounds that as a divorced man, he was unsuitable.  Still, the ruby in the engagement ring shouldered some of the blame.  Some were concerned when Prince Andrew gave Sarah Ferguson a ruby and diamond engagement ring.  Their divorce didn’t help the Royal Family’s wariness of engagement rubies either but Sarah still wears her ruby ring from time to time and she and Prince Andrew still care deeply for each other.  Some think the two will eventually get back together again, love triumphing over ruby.  Even though they are divorced, I think they’ve always been and always will be the love of each others’ lives.

I hope there’s another royal engagement soon and not just because I love talking about shiny baubles, but because Prince Harry seems to truly want to settle down and have a family of his own.  Prince Harry has said, “I’ve longed for kids since I was very, very young. And so… I’m waiting to find the right person, someone who’s willing to take on the job.” The women who Prince Harry dates aren’t the type who are after the perks of a royal title, their lives are about more than just salon appointments and shopping trips, they are aware they wouldn’t be just marrying a man, they would be marrying an entire country and with that comes expectation.  I hope Cressida is “willing to take on the job”, everyone deserves to have a love that will last forever.

redheart

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