When Prince William got down on one knee 14 years ago, he proposed to Kate Middleton with the same engagement ring that his mother, the late Princess Diana, received from then-Prince Charles (now King Charles III). Although the heirloom sparkler—a 12-carat, oval Ceylon blue sapphire, surrounded by a halo of 14 diamonds and set in 18k white gold—was a touching tribute to Princess Di, wearing the bauble reportedly presents a range of challenges for Kate, according to an expert.
Ben Roberts, the managing director of Clogau, the brand that’s responsible for the Welsh gold that often comprises British royals’ engagement rings, opened up to Hello! on February 1, 2024, about what maintaining the rock really requires. “Most people don’t know the level of upkeep that wearing an heirloom day to day can entail,” Roberts admitted. “Even without any alterations, caring for an heirloom of such value comes with its own challenges. Kate and her team will need to employ careful maintenance with regular inspections and in-depth evaluations, gentle cleaning to restore sheen, and if necessary, expert repairs to ensure its longevity.”
William popped the question in 2010 during a trip to Kenya. In the couple’s post-engagement interview with ITV News, the Prince of Wales revealed why he chose Diana’s sapphire and diamond sparkler for the ring. “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 in any of the fun and excitement of all this,” William said. “This is my way of keeping her sort of close to it all.”
The rock was actually inspired by a brooch that Prince Albert commissioned British jeweler Garrard to craft for his future wife, Queen Victoria, in 1840 as a wedding gift, Vogue reported. “She found she loved it so much that she decided to wear it on her wedding day as her something blue on the front of her dress,” Garrad’s Creative Director Sara Prentice shared. Victoria continued to wear the accessory up until her death in 1861. She even made it a crown heirloom in her will, meaning the reigning British monarch would always own it.
From there, Queen Elizabeth II inherited the brooch, which she donned on multiple occasions. Then, when Prince Charles was thinking about engagement rings for Princess Diana, he was inspired by that diamond and sapphire piece. “Prince Charles had always seen this beautiful sapphire brooch of his mother’s,” according to Garrard. So, when he went to the jeweler to select a sparkler, he saw a ring made of similar gemstones, and he knew it was the perfect pick. Since the ring was a $60,000 stock piece, rather than a bespoke design, anyone could have owned the exact same ring, which made it a controversial choice—but one that Diana loved and wore even after her divorce. Following Princess Diana’s death in 1997, Prince Harry actually chose his mother’s engagement ring to inherit, but it’s said that he offered the bauble to Prince William when he was getting ready to propose to Kate.