Kate Middleton’s iconic 12-carat sapphire and diamond cluster engagement ring, worth more than half a million dollars, is one of the most famous pieces of jewelry on the planet, and the story behind it goes back to the 19th century. When Prince William and Middleton announced their engagement back in November 2010, the ring was a big part of the day; and, the Duke and Duchess owe it all to Prince Harry.
According to Vogue, the origin story of the ring begins in 1840, when Prince Albert commissioned the British jeweler Garrard to create a brooch for his bride, Queen Victoria. She fell in love with the sapphire and diamond piece and wore it as her “something blue” for her wedding day.
During Queen Victoria’s sixty-three years on the throne, she collected a lot of jewels, but her favorite was always the brooch, so in her will, she made it a crown heirloom, which means it belongs to the reigning monarch.
Later the piece became a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, and she has worn it often, including the only time she met President Kennedy and Prince William’s christening. The brooch also caught the attention of Prince Charles, and he couldn’t forget about it when he was looking for an engagement ring for Diana.
“It was said to be a strong influence on Prince Charles when he came to Garrard to purchase a ring for Lady Diana. He actually ended up setting a sapphire cluster ring for her,” says Sara Prentice, the current Creative Director at Garrard’s.
After Princess Diana died tragically in 1997, she left William and Harry two of her most prized possessions, her engagement ring, and a gold Cartier watch. Each boy got to choose what they wanted, and Harry chose the ring.
However, when it came time for William to propose to Kate Middleton, Harry decided to give the ring to his brother, so he could propose to Kate with it, and Harry took the watch. He knew how important Middleton was to his brother, and Harry thought of her as a sister.
When the Duke and Duchess announced their engagement, he told British news channel ITV that the ring was his way of including his mother in the big day.
There will come a time when Kate will be queen, and she will be in possession of the ring and the inspirational brooch, and the legacy of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert will continue.