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British Royal Engagement Rings

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Royal Engagement Rings

The first royal engagement ring recorded in history was given to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 by Maximilian I of Austria and since then we have been fascinated by royal engagement rings.   From Queen Victoria to the present Queen’s granddaughter-in-law, Autumn, engagement rings have been documented including sapphires, diamonds, emeralds and rubies.

Engagement rings are very special and so we are always fascinated to see what ‘real life’ princesses will receive when they get engaged.   The royal choices for engagement rings are often reflected in society.   The sale of emeralds increased when Princess Mary, the Princess Royal received an emerald engagement ring in 1930 and who can forget the rush on the sale of sapphire rings after Lady Diana Spencer started wearing one?

Queen Victoria’s Engagement Ring

Queen Victoria started a trend in engagement rings when she received a snake ring as her engagement ring.

Snakes were seen as a symbol of eternal love and so she thought that made her engagement ring the ultimate token of 'happily ever after'.

I haven't been able to find any images of her ring, but apparently the snake's head was an emerald which is why I've featured two snake rings here that contain emeralds.

During the period before the Victorian era (and even during) engagement rings often bore the wife to be’s birthstone in them and in Queen Victoria’s case (being born in May) her birthstone was an emerald.

Queen Victoria loved her snake engagement ring that was designed especially for her by her beloved Prince Albert and it is believed that she was wearing it when she was buried.

Queen Alexandra’s Engagement Ring

When Queen Victoria’s son the future King Edward VII married he gave his wife Alexandra a classic Victorian era ring. During the Victorian era a lot of rings were given that spelt out things using jewels such as DEAREST and LOVE.

As you can see from the DEAREST ring opposite you simply take the first letter of the gemstone used as in Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire and Tanzanite.

Rather than the rather pedestrian DEAREST or LOVE Alexandra’s ring spelled BERTIE which was the name that she called her husband by. The stones used were beryl, emerald, ruby, topaz, jacinth and emerald. I’m not sure about the use of jacinth, but I don’t believe that Iolite had been ‘discovered and named’ at that stage so it may have been regularly used as an I.

Queen Mary's Engagement Ring

Little is ever mentioned about Queen Mary’s engagement ring – perhaps because she was engaged twice?? After the death of her first fiancé and heir to the British throne – Prince Albert Victor, she became engaged to his younger brother (now heir to the throne), Prince George.

I have read conflicting reports that her first engagement ring was a ruby, however the dates reported would indicate that it was her second engagement ring. I think a big part of the confusion may have come about as her father-in-law Edward VII presented her with a beautiful ring featuring marquise shaped diamond surrounded by rubies as a wedding gift when she married Prince George, Duke of York.

Mary loved jewelry and as Queen of England acquired a lot of it, much of which was passed down to her granddaughter the present Queen Elizabeth II.

Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor with her engagement ring circa 1936

Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor with her engagement ring circa 1936

Duchess of Windsor’s Engagement Ring

When Edward VIII decided to choose the woman he loved over the throne of England he presented Wallis Simpson with an emerald engagement ring. Edward and Wallis loved jewelry and were always getting pieces remounted.

Originally the piece was a rectangular emerald that weighed 19.77 carats and was set within a stylized leaf border with several diamonds. The engagement ring was remounted in a different design, however, on at least one occasion.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother’s Engagement Ring

When Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon finally accepted Prince Albert’s (the future King George VI) proposal (and rumor has it that he had to ask her on three different occasions) she spoke to reporters and let it slip that she was getting a sapphire engagement ring. The royal family were not amused and she was careful never to give another interview.

Apparently sapphires were chosen for Elizabeth’s engagement ring because they were her favorite stone. Although we know that her original engagement ring was a sapphire and diamond one Queen Elizabeth did start wearing a pearl and diamond ring on her ring finger during the 1950s. This ring has often, mistakenly, been referred to as her engagement ring.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Engagement Ring

Queen Elizabeth II was given a diamond engagement ring by Prince Philip.   What made this ring even more special was the provenance of the diamonds used.   Prince Philip was born as Prince of Greece and Denmark, but his family were exiled from Greece when he was a small child.   A rather impoverished European royal, his mother Princess Andrew of Greece did have some royal jewelry and the diamonds for Queen Elizabeth’s engagement ring came from one of her tiaras.

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Prince Philip designed the ring which is made of platinum and has a 3 carat diamond as the centerpiece flanked with five diamonds on each side.

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York's engagement ring

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York's engagement ring

Royal Ruby Engagement Rings

When the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret became engaged to Lord Snowden he designed a ruby engagement ring for her.   Fashioned to look like a rosebud surrounded by diamonds he designed it with her middle name of Rose in mind.

When Charles’ brother Andrew proposed to Sarah Ferguson he also offered up a ruby ring…..although the story goes that he presented her with an emerald to which she said she wanted a ruby!

The ruby is not a stone used very often in engagement rings within the British royal family as there are a number of bad superstitions surrounding them and seeing that both Princess Margaret’s and Sarah Ferguson’s marriages ended in divorce I don’t foresee a rush on rubies for any future royal bride!

Princess Diana's iconic engagement ring

Princess Diana's iconic engagement ring

Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring

There was quite a controversy surrounding Princess Diana’s engagement ring. Apparently when Prince Charles proposed he didn’t have a ring as he wanted her to take time and think about the change marriage would bring to her life. Diana was eager to get an engagement ring so instead of waiting for Charles to get one designed they went to the jewelers and she chose one off the rack (so to speak). This was unheard of in royal circles and meant that everyone now knew how much the ring was worth!

Buy Princess Diana's Engagement Ring!

You can purchase a copy of Princess Diana's engagement ring at Emitations, a website known for it's imitation celebrity jewelry.

Princess Diana’s engagement ring has often been copied and is seen as a twentieth century classic. A large oval sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds and set in white gold this ring is believed to have been left to Prince Harry.

Princess Anne also chose a sapphire and diamond engagement ring for her first marriage to Captain Mark Phillips.   The Queen’s youngest son, Edward, presented his wife to be with a diamond ring – the first royal diamond engagement ring since his mothers.

Buy Camilla's Engagement Ring!

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall's engagement ring

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall's engagement ring

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s Engagement Ring

Camilla’s engagement ring is a diamond one that comes with history. The ring was left to Charles by his beloved grandmother Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Contrary to some rumors this was not her engagement ring, but a dress ring that was given to her by her own mother-in-law Queen Mary upon the birth of our present Queen.

Purchase a copy of Camilla's engagement ring here.

Set in platinum this diamond ring is designed in an art deco fashion and contains and emerald cut diamond in the center with three diamond baguettes flanking it on both sides.

Autumn Kelly’s Engagement Ring

The first of the Queen’s grandchildren to wed was Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips and he chose Autumn Kelly to be his bride.   Autumn’s ring was a 3 diamond ring set in white gold.

Kate Middleton's Engagement Ring

After years of courting Prince William (2nd in line for the British throne) Kate and William have finally announced their engagement.   The wedding will take place in 2011, but what about the engagement ring?   Well it appears that some pundits were right and Kate will be wearing a 'recycled' engagement ring!  

The late Princess Diana (William's mother) had a sapphire engagement ring (see a previous section above) and William gave this very same ring to his fiance.   The sapphire engagement ring worn by his late mother caused a flurry of copy rings to be sold worldwide during the 80s, it will be interesting to see if the same follows this latest Royal engagement.

In these days of economic hardship it wasn't a case of the Royal family not having enough money for a new ring, but as Prince William said it was a way of keeping his own mother involved in their engagement.

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Libby esther Berman on August 02, 2017:

Extraordinary. Beautiful jewellery with a history. I love this stuff!

Jenafran from Tampa Bay Florida on October 24, 2011:

Very interesting! I wonder what Princess Anne's second ring looks like?

abida on July 13, 2011:

I had never even seen these rings before.This hub info is all new to me.It must be great to be in a position to have almost any ring that you want.

TheMonk from Brazil on June 29, 2011:

My wife love this kind of stuff. I e-mailed this to her asking if she wanted to change her ring. She was so sweet, lying with the most sincere expression to me! lol

lou16 (author) on April 20, 2011:

@Tracey - that was my first question when the engagement was announced, but Harry either let William have it for Kate (apparently they have a great relationship) or Diana's will was reported on incorrectly (in several, usually reliable sources).

Tracey on April 20, 2011:

If the ring that was Diana's was left to Harry, how come William gave it to Catherine.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on February 15, 2011:

Interesting hub on royal engagement rings - it must be great to be in a position to have almost any ring that you want, and some of these rings ar gorgeous

Yena Williams from California on December 28, 2010:

I have to admit, I'm a complete sucker for large diamonds!! What girl isn't? I love the emerald and the ruby red, they're absolutely gorgeous!

lou16 (author) on December 23, 2010:

@cookie_elf - Sarah Ferguson's engagement ring had a Burmese Ruby in the center of it with 10 diamonds surrounding it so that it looked like a flower. Prince Andrew designed it especially for her. If you're after a replica then check out this link - - for a great version of Fergie's ring.

cookie_elf on December 23, 2010:

Is there any detailed description of Sarah Ferguson's ruby engagement ring? Would be interested in obtaining replica of this ring, since I have the replica of the "Diana/Kate" ring. Thank you in advance for any help you can offer...

Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on July 02, 2010:

Lovely Hub--I have always been partial to Emerald for a wedding set, etc. It's nice to know it has royal overtones.

MaryRenee on June 25, 2010:

Great hub, really loved reading in, bravo! :)

lou16 (author) on May 13, 2010:

That's true Allie, but because she's married to the Queen's grandson I still think it still falls under a British Royal Engagement ring.

AllieT on May 13, 2010:

Autumn Kelly is a Canadian....

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on March 25, 2010:

Yes, he does ~ I think that this was always Princess Anne's intention.

lou16 (author) on March 24, 2010:

Thank you Trish. I live in Australia these days and I hadn't heard of Autumn Kelly until after the engagement when there was quite a debate about the rules of succession because she was brought up Catholic. Peter seems to be good at flying under the radar :)

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on March 24, 2010:

Very interesting!

I had thought that I knew quite a bit about our royals, but this hub info was all new to me ~ including (especially) the bit about Autumn. I had never even heard of her before!

Very informative :)

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