By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the sweet story behind the Cleve and Company sparkler Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle with, but he’s not the first Royal to gift his fiancée with an extra-special heirloom. While most people know that Kate Middleton’s ring, designed by House of Garrard, once belonged to Prince William’s mother, Princess Diana, few are aware that its inspiration actually goes far beyond the late monarch’s marriage to Prince Charles back in 1981.
As the House of Garrard’s creative director, Sara Prentice, told Vogue back in October, a very similar stone was actually originally commissioned from the company as a brooch by Prince Albert back in 1840 for Queen Victoria. “She found she loved it so much, she decided to wear it on her wedding day as her something blue on the front of the dress,” Prentice said.
Queen Victoria made the brooch a Crown Heirloom in her will, so while it will always belong to the reigning Monarch (Queen Elizabeth frequently wears it to public events), Prince Charles was inspired to create something similar for his bride-to-be.
As Prentice told the outlet, “It was said to have a strong influence on Prince Charles when he came to Garrard to purchase a ring for Lady Diana.”
He did, of course, wind up choosing a 12-carat blue Ceylor sapphire with 14 solitaire diamonds on an 18K white-gold band, which, as of last year, was estimated to be worth around $300,000.
The piece was later selected for the Duchess of Cambridge with a very sweet sentiment in mind. As Prince William told Tom Bradby during his first post-engagement interview with Britain’s ITV News, “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 any of the fun and excitement of it all. This was my way of keeping her close to it all.”
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(Photos via Chris Jackson, Sion Touhig, David Cheskin + Tim Graham/Getty)