When it comes to royalty and nobility, titles are not everything. Sure, it might have been like this centuries ago, when a noble, but impoverished knight might sit at the same table with the king only by virtue of his name and his deeds on the battlefield. Today, noble titles can be bought off the internet, but they don’t come along with the distinction and the wealth one would associate with a noble’s name.
But the most obvious proof, apart from the name – and the first thing one could see – are jewels. And when those jewels have a noble tale behind them, that makes them even more valuable. This is the case of perhaps one of the most famous engagement rings in the world, the so-called Kate Middleton engagement ring. It was given to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, back in 2010, when Prince William asked her hand in marriage. The beautiful ring consists of a single blue 12-karat Ceylon sapphire, surrounded by fourteen diamonds, all set in 18-karat white gold.
But this is not just a gorgeous ring, it has a lot of sentimental value attached to it too. 29 years before Prince William proposed to Kate, the same ring was chosen by Lady Diana Spencer as her engagement ring to Charles, the Prince of Wales, back in February 1981.
According to specialists, future Princess Diana’s choice was quite unusual, since the ring was not custom-made and beforehand could have been purchased by anyone.
“She had obviously already said she would like a sapphire; (…) and she chose this one purely because she liked it. (…) Somebody came up with the story that she immediately went for the biggest, but I asked her and she told me it definitely wasn’t the biggest, she simply thought it was very beautiful,” said jewellery historian Leslie Field in 2010.
After Diana’s death, her sons William and Harry are said to have chosen mementoes from her mother’s possessions. Harry chose the engagement ring, while William selected Diana’s £19’000 yellow gold Cartier watch. At some point they switches the memorabilia, and in 2010 prince William offered the ring to Kate Middleton. The duchess of Cambridge eventually had to resize the ring, and asked the Crown Jewellers G. Collins and Sons to attach two platinum studs, in order to enlarge it.
In 2010, when the couple announced their engagement, Prince William said Diana’s sapphire and diamond was “very special” to him.
“As Kate’s very special to me now, it was right to put the two together. (…) It was my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement. ” said Prince William.
Kate Middleton’s engagement ring and its history caused excitement among the commoners, too. Some said the jewel was foremost associated with Princess Diana and her untimely death in 1997, in a car accident in Paris. Others named it “the commoner’s Sapphire”, a reference to Kate Middleton’s non-royal lineage. But one thing is quite clear: there are plenty of similarities between the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Diana, with manner and personality among the most obvious ones.
At the time of Diana’s engagement, the ring was worth somewhere around $ 47.000, but its value is now somewhere around $500.000, more than ten times its initial worth. And some would say the price is right when considering the history of the jewel, but at least for Kate and William, the ring is priceless.