One of the most famous pieces of jewelry in modern times, Kate Middleton’s engagement ring has a unique history and special place in people’s hearts and minds. First revealed by Princess Diana on the occasion of her engagement to Prince Charles, this iconic ring made a very sentimental reappearance when Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in 2010. It’s for very good reason that its distinctive and gorgeous style continues to inspire countless brides today.
Get the Look: Kate Middleton's Engagement Ring
Kate Middleton’s Engagement Ring Design
The ring showcases as its centerpiece a 12 carat oval Ceylon sapphire in a rare and highly coveted deep, royal blue hue. Surrounding the sapphire is a large halo of 14 round cut diamonds. All stones are set on a polished and shining 18K white gold band. Essentially a floral-inspired cluster ring, the history, romanticism, and unexpected style have given this ring a coveted place in engagement ring inspiration.
Cluster rings have long been celebrated in the jewelry world, and are a favorite type of design among royals who tend to favor colorful gemstones in engagement rings. They come in two style types: a more prominent center stone surrounded by other stones sometimes of various sizes and shapes, and multiple main stones that are placed closely together in a cluster. The particular flower-inspired design of Kate Middleton’s engagement ring has graced many royal fingers showcasing rubies, emeralds, and sapphires surrounded by larger diamond halos.
The History of Kate Middleton’s Engagement Ring
The engagement ring worn by Kate Middleton is the exact same ring worn by Princess Diana for her engagement. Upon Diana’s passing, the ring became part of a collection of jewels left to her children, William and Harry. When William planned to propose to Kate, he wanted to do so with his mother’s ring for the symbolism and sentimentality he had attached to the stunning sapphire ring.
The story behind the selection of the ring for Princess Diana sets the foundation for its allure. The origins of the ring date back to the 19th century. In 1840, Prince Albert approached famed royal jeweler Garrard to create a sapphire and diamond brooch for his beloved fiancé, Queen Victoria. So in love with the final piece, Queen Victoria wore the brooch on her wedding day pinned to the front of her dress.
The brooch quickly became a favorite piece worn by Victoria often during her reign, up until the death of Albert in 1861. Upon her passing, she bequeathed the brooch to become a Crown heirloom, meaning it would always be part of the collection belonging to the reigning monarch. It again became a favorite of another monarch, Queen Elizabeth, leading to it being used as inspiration once Prince Charles was set to propose to Lady Diana Spencer.
After asking Diana for her hand in marriage, Prince Charles went to Garrard to put together a few select rings for Diana to choose from to mark the engagement. This group included the jewelry house’s sapphire and diamond cluster Marguerite ring that Charles selected for the sentimental attachment to the Queen Victoria brooch. Diana fell in love with the ring as well, ultimately choosing it for her engagement ring.
Legend has it that Diana was also attracted to the ring for sentimental reasons – it reminded her of her mother’s engagement ring. It’s also been suggested she loved that the deep blue hue of the sapphire matched her eye color. That stone is a Ceylon blue sapphire, a particularly beautiful and coveted type of sapphire.
Ceylon is the name given to sapphires that originate from the island nation of Sri Lanka. Originally colonized in the early 1500s, British colonizers took over in 1798 officially giving the nation the name of Ceylon. The country gained its independence in 1948 and adopted the name Sri Lanka in 1972. Blue sapphires that were mined from the region during this colonial period still carry the Ceylon name in their description.
Some of the most beautiful, gem-quality sapphires in the world come from Sri Lanka. To have the signifier of being a Ceylon sapphire means the stone is of the highest quality and the deep, rich blue hue that the island is known for producing. Throughout history, Ceylon sapphires have appeared more often than any other sapphire in royal jewels and museum and private collections around the world.
Today, beautiful sapphires are still mined in Sri Lanka, but they no longer carry the description as being a Ceylon sapphire. More and more, the particular designation as a Ceylon sapphire indicates a period of time when the gemstone was mined and the antique or vintage nature of the jewelry if it’s the original piece. If you wanted to replicate the brilliance, brightness, and saturation of a Ceylon sapphire today, your best bet would be to narrow your search to sapphires of Sri Lankan origin.
2.57 Carat Oval Sapphire Engagement Ring
How to Get the Look
The distinctive look of Kate Middleton’s engagement ring starts with an excellent sapphire. Selecting a sapphire requires different considerations than a diamond. For one, the key factor for a sapphire is its color, and the most important element of color to consider is the saturation. The saturation is how pure or intense the color looks, and most prefer a higher level of saturation.
Sourcing a sapphire that is designated as Ceylon origin is likely out of reach for most people. Those stones are representative of a past period of time and are considered to be antique or vintage. Most are either in family jewelry boxes, royal collections, or museum exhibits. When they can be found for sale, they are often priced at a premium. However, not all is lost. Focusing on sapphires mined in Sri Lanka will give you the same high-quality, rich and bright blue hue in a sapphire.
When considering the clarity of your sapphire, it’s also very different from a diamond clarity grading. Sapphires are expected to have inclusions – they are inherent to the creation process of the sapphire and contribute to its color and overall look. The important consideration here is to look for eye-clean clarity and smaller inclusions that don’t create vulnerability in the stone. And the same as with a diamond, the cut of a sapphire gives it its sparkle and brilliance. You’ll want to focus on a well-cut stone with excellent symmetry for a gorgeous ring.
We love the durability, old world appeal, and unexpected color that sapphires bring to an engagement ring. Two of our favorite sapphire rings reimagine Kate Middleton’s engagement ring with two different halo looks. Camilla features a 3.68 carat oval blue sapphire with a delicate pavé halo while Shaye showcases a 3.75 carat oval blue sapphire set with a glittering double halo of diamonds.
Other ways to interpret the design are to emphasize the nature-inspired floral look or modernize the setting with a bezel. For Oceana, we opted to accentuate the classic floral-inspired look of the original engagement right with leaf details and an organic, sculptural band. Then for Patricia, the look is made even more refined and sophisticated by a bezel setting for the center oval sapphire and surrounding diamond halo.
And for those who love the floral sapphire look but prefer a diamond center stone, look no further than our Floris. A lovely 0.40 carat round brilliant cut diamond is framed by blue sapphire ‘petals’ supported on a smooth band with hand-engraved details of milgrain and filigree throughout for beautiful vintage appeal.
Engagement rings are symbols of romance, commitment, and the beautiful love story between two people. The sweet style of Kate Middleton’s engagement ring is one of the many reasons it has become iconic and continues to serve as inspiration for countless brides around the world!