The Most Famous Engagement Rings in the World
Quick! What's the most famous engagement ring in the world? If you answered the blue sapphire and diamond ring, first worn by Princess Diana, and now worn by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, you're right! You'd be hard pressed to find someone who can't identify that ring on sight.
Throughout history, though, several other women-royal and otherwise-have sported some truly amazing engagement rings, bestowed upon them by their equally famous husbands. Rings like these are one of the reasons vintage engagement rings are so desirable. It's a little easier to feel like a member of royalty, a world-famous actress, or a First Lady with a one-of-a-kind vintage ring on your finger.
Before Diana's sapphire and diamond ring became famous, another ring with the same stones was making its way through history.
When we think of Napoleon Bonaparte, it's often about his military conquests and the unfortunate psychological complex that bears his name. Despite these negative sentiments about his character, we also know one thing beyond a doubt-Napoleon was deeply, madly in love with his wife, Josephine.
His passion for Josephine is conveyed in the numerous love letters he wrote to her while he marched through Europe. It's also evident in the engagement ring he gave her.
Consisting of one diamond and one sapphire, both pear-shaped and roughly a carat each, the ring looks deceptively simple. But due to the size and quality of the stones, it's likely that Napoleon-who was not yet emperor and by no means rich when he and Josephine married-went into some debt to purchase the finest ring he could for his beloved.
The beauty of the ring was further validated in 2013, when it was put up for auction in France. The auction house expected to get no more than $20,000 for Josephine's engagement ring. The actual winning bid? $949,000 from an anonymous bidder.
Whatever the price, the ring remains a testament to Napoleon's love for Josephine.
Queen Elizabeth II
Royals around the world are often known for their ostentatious displays of wealth. The reason HRH Queen Elizabeth II's ring is notable? Its simplicity. Not only that, the primary stone came from an older piece of jewelry, so it was already a vintage ring when she received it.
Philip proposed to Elizabeth in the summer of 1946, but her parents didn't approve of him. It took them a year to come around and give their blessing, so it wasn't until 1947 that Philip presented an engagement ring to his fiancée.
The ring is a platinum band with five small diamonds on each side of the main stone. It's that main stone that holds quite a bit of historical importance. It's a 3-carat solitaire that was taken from a tiara that belonged to Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg.
Of the many pieces of jewelry belonging to Queen Elizabeth, her engagement ring is one she wears quite often. And if the queen of England can wear a vintage engagement ring, surely that's still a good choice for anyone today!
Not all royals are descended from noble bloodlines. Princess Grace of Monaco was born Grace Kelly of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She began her acting career in 1950, at the tender age of 20.
Her star rose quickly, due in equal parts to her talent and her ethereal beauty. She became one of famed director Alfred Hitchcock's favorite actresses, appearing in three of his most famous films, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief.
After just a five-year career, Grace met Prince Ranier of Monaco in April 1955. By December of that year, they were engaged, and they married in April 1956, which was the end of her acting career, and the beginning of a life of royal duties and philanthropy.
In true princely fashion, Ranier gave his princess-to-be a stunning engagement ring-a 10.47-carat emerald-cut diamond flanked by two bezel-set baguette diamonds on either side, all in a vintage platinum Art Deco setting.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
While Grace bridged the royal and regular worlds, probably the closest thing the United States ever had to a royal family was that of John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline. After JFK's death, based on a quote Jackie gave, it even became common practice to refer to their tenure as America's first family as "Camelot." Although that time ended in tragedy, it began with hope and aspiration.
John and Jackie met at a dinner party given by a mutual friend in 1951, and they embarked on a two-year courtship. They had much in common, both from powerful and dysfunctional families, both well-educated and intelligent. Jackie was the perfect complement to JFK's ambitions, first the perfect campaign wife, and then the perfect First Lady.
On June 24, 1953, Jack proposed to Jackie, and presented her with an engagement ring, the likes of which have yet to be seen since. It's made up of two main gemstones-a 2.88-carat diamond beside a 2.84-carat emerald, accented with baguette diamonds. In 1962, the ring was reset, adding .66 carats of round and 1.46 carats of marquise accent diamonds, creating an open halo effect around the two main gemstones.
The ring has previously been on exhibit at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, and will always remain a symbol of American mythos, and of a love story cut short.
Shop our gorgeous vintage engagement rings, and feel like Jacqueline, Elizabeth or Grace.