The History of British royal engagement rings

Whether it’s a jewelry store-bought creation, or a vintage piece brought up from deep within Her Majesty’s jewel vault, there’s something special about the ring that signifies a royal marriage. The overwhelming majority of Britain’s royal ladies have some color on their ring fingers – not Queen Elizabeth II, though. Her diamond and platinum ring is somewhat of an outlier, but it is nevertheless classically beautiful.


QUEEN ELIZABETH II has the most valuable engagement ring in the British royal family.

Prince Philip designed Queen Elizabeth’s ring himself, with the help of jeweler Philip Antrobus Ltd. It was made in London and features a 3-carat diamond set in a traditional claw setting in platinum with five smaller diamonds on each side.

British royal engagement rings: Queen Elizabeth’s engagement ring

Queen Elizabeth’s engagement ring

Prince Philip used diamonds from a tiara belonging to his mother, Princess Alice of Greece.

The diamonds not used in the engagement ring were used for a diamond and platinum bracelet which Philip gave to the Queen as a wedding present.


British royal engagement rings - Princess Alice's tiara from whichQueen Elizabeth's engagement ring was made

Princess Alice wearing the tiara from which diamonds were used to create Queen Elizabeth’s engagement ring

Queen Elizabeth’s engagement ring refrains from the colored gemstones that future generations have. ‘Her majesty’s ring is more likely to be worth around £200,000.’

One of the most valuable ring in the History of British royal engagement rings

Princess Elizabeth stands with Prince Philip on 11 July 1947 at Buckingham Palace London to pose for photos following their engagement


When Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten proposed to Princess Elizabeth, he presented her with a simple yet timeless ring: a 3-carat diamond solitaire as a centerpiece, flanked by five smaller diamonds on each side, all set in platinum.

It is often said that the ring was originally too big for Princess Elizabeth and had to be changed two days before the official engagement.

There is also another story that it serves as a kind of delicate and wordless method of communication between Her Majesty and her ladies-in-waiting: if she twists the ring around her finger, something (or someone) is irritating her.


most famous of all British royal engagement rings

Queen Elizabeth wearing her engagement ring and wedding band


Queen Elizabeth’s wedding band was made from a Welsh gold, as the family tradition requires.

Her Majesty wears her engagement ring and wedding band on all occasions, very rarely taking them off.


Perhaps the most-famous British royal engagement ring belonged to Lady Diana Spencer. Prince Charles gifted Diana, Princess of Wales a remarkable sapphire engagement ring. It is a 12-carat Ceylon sapphire, which is surrounded by 14 brilliant diamonds and set in yellow gold, out of Gerrard’s catalog.


Diana's most iconic jewel in the History of British royal engagement rings

Diana’s most iconic jewel – a 12-carat sapphire engagement ring


The ever-famous ring was personally chosen by Diana from a selection presented to her by Garrard Jewelers, making it an unusual royal choice, because anyone could purchase it from the Garrard catalog at the time. A large, oval 12-carat sapphire is surrounded by a cluster of 14 diamonds set in 18 karats white gold.

When the official engagement photos were released, the ring only had 8 prongs total, 2 in each corner. More prongs were added in December 1981 and the result is what now rests on Catherine’s finger.


Princess Diana’s blue sapphire statement ring


Diana and her mother Frances, with her sapphire ring in view, at Wimbledon in 1993


Diana later stated that she picked it because it “was the biggest one.” Whatever the reason, this beautiful ring has indeed become a symbol and an heirloom.


British royal engagement rings in the Twenty-First Century


The princess of Wales’ engagement ring, which was given to her sons after her death, was given by Prince William to his future bride, Catherine Middleton in 2010 (now the Duchess of Cambridge).


The History of British royal engagement rings:Prince William and Kate Middleton

Prince William and Kate Middleton pose for photographs in November 2010 as they announce their engagement


When William gave it to Kate, he stated, “It’s very special to me. 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, and the fact that we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together.”

The ring worn in the memory of Prince William’s mother was originally valued at £28,000 in 1981. Today it is estimated to have an insurance value of approximately £300,000.’ Of course, when the history and sentiment behind Diana’s ring are considered, its value is simply priceless.

The most valuable ring in the History of British royal engagement rings

The late Princess Diana wearing her Sapphire and Diamond Engagement Ring. Right: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wearing her heirloom engagement ring, a visible connection between her husband and the mother-in-law she never met.


In 2005, Prince Charles proposed to Camilla Parker Bowles with a ring that had belonged to his grandmother, the Queen Mother (it is rumored that it was given to her to celebrate the birth of her first child, Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II). The ring consisted of an emerald-cut diamond with three diamond baguettes on each side.


The History of British royal engagement rings -Camilla Parker-Bowles' Engagement ring

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles Engagement Announcement, February 2005

Prince Charles’ wife’s jewelry collection is also full of family heirlooms – she particularly likes to wear pieces that once belonged to the Queen Mother. The Camilla Parker Bowles’ engagement ring is one of these gems.


The History of British royal engagement ring : arge diamond and platinum heirloom belonging to the royal family

Prince Charles proposed to Camila Parker-Bowles in February 2005 with a large diamond and platinum heirloom belonging to the royal family


Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon received a sapphire ring from the Duke of York (shown above left), and one she said at the time was her favorite.

It had diamond accents and was paired with a Welsh gold wedding band.

Later in life, in the 1950s, she chose to abandon her original engagement ring in favor of a large pearl surrounded by diamonds (above right). We don’t know the reason for the switch.


Camilla-Parker-Bowles and Queen Mother



Camilla wears a huge statement ring with a modest gold wedding band.

It has an art deco design and is said to be one of the most valuable in the whole of the royal collection. Camilla Parker Bowles engagement ring is in the price bracket of £166,400.”

While this is also an enormous amount, Camilla’s ring does not quite top the value of Kate Middleton’s sparkling sapphire.

For her long-awaited engagement to Prince Harry, Miss Meghan Markle received a re-set ring. As his grandfather Philip did, Prince Harry designed Meghan Markle’s engagement ring himself using diamonds which belonged to his mother Diana, Princess of Wales. Jeweler Cleave and Company created Meghan’s remarkable three-stone ring with Harry. And they made a promise they wouldn’t be making the same style for anyone else: ‘We’re not going to be making replicas of it. If you want a ring, then we’ll design you a different one.’

The value of such a center diamond highly depends on the color and clarity of the stone. While it is very difficult to tell the clarity without evaluating the stone, one would imagine Prince Harry would pick something close to perfect.


The center diamond came from Botswana, a country close to the hearts of both, Prince Harry and Meghan. Botswana retained particular significance for him, who has visited it many times since his childhood. It is also a place where the couple had spent time together over the last year and a half. The side stones belonged to Diana’s, personal collection. The three diamonds were set in yellow gold, “because that’s her favorite.


the newest of all British royal engagement rings

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and the newest British royal engagement ring


The Prince said of designing the ring, “The main stone itself I sourced from Botswana. The little diamonds on the side are from my mother’s jewelry collection to make sure she’s with us on this crazy journey together.” Depending on the quality, it could easily be valued as high as £250,000.’

While a monetary value can be estimated by gemologists, as with all of the British royal engagement rings – considering the history and the owners of the stunning pieces – their real worth is surely priceless.



There are many other engagement rings in British royal family which will be discussed some other time. Which of these do you like the most?


The overwhelming majority of Britain’s royal ladies have some color on their ring fingers.

If you are considering a colored gemstone for your engagement ring, make sure you consider the hardness of the stone. A gemstone’s hardness is measured on the Mohs 10-point scale. The higher the score, the more resistant the gemstone to scratches and chips.


Diamonds are a perfect 10 followed by sapphires and rubies, which are both nines. This means that the gemstone will be more resistant to scratches and chips.”

Gemme Couture Pink Sapphire Diamond Ring

Gemme Couture Ascher Cut Diamond Platinum Ring