When Diana Spencer chose her sapphire engagement ring back in February 1981, she was probably unaware of just how iconic the ring would become. It was an interesting choice for two reasons; sapphires are not the first choice for an engagement ring and because unusually for a member of the Royal Family, the ring was not unique. Diana selected the large $39,000 ring, consisting of 14 diamonds surrounding a sapphire, from the then crown jewellers Garrard general though very exclusive, jewellery collection. The ring, with its large 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire and solitaire diamonds set in 18-carat white gold, quickly became a runaway seller with women who wanted to capture some of the mystique attached to the future Queen of England. Now it is happening all over gain with the famous engagement ring passed on to another beautiful princess-to-be Kate Middleton, a woman who is already a style icon with the added charisma of being the commoner who captured a prince.
“It’s like a fairy-tale, it’s about romance, who doesn’t dream about marrying a Prince?” Says Island Companies Director of Merchandise Marsha Bryant, “This is a girl, a commoner, who gets to marry her prince.”
To celebrate the wedding, Island Companies has produced its own jewellery collection called The Princess Commemorative Collection consisting of a ring, pendant and earrings all in the same oval shape with a sapphire in the middle surrounded by diamonds.
Bryant thinks it’s is not surprising that people want to be a part of the magic surrounding Ms Middleton but it is not just about the romance, according to Bryant. “It’s also about how close Prince William was to his mother and he is showing that same type of devotion and commitment to Kate by giving her his mother’s ring.”
In fact, Bryant says, in the language of precious stones, blue sapphire stands for loyalty and virtue. Sapphires are also second only to diamonds in terms of hardness making them especially suitable for every day wear. “In the Princess Collection, the sapphire is one carat and the selling price is quite remarkable considering it is a sapphire. The matching pendant is the same price, the earrings a bit more because there are two sapphires. We are also selling them as a set, which is even better value as you get money off when buying the full set.” She reiterates, “remember this is real sapphires”. The stones have a setting of sterling silver set with rhodrum plate that helps prolong the life of the silver. Island Companies has also produced a “Fit for a Queen” version in a gold setting that has a bigger gemstone that comes in rubies, tanzanite or sapphire.
Sapphires are of course very valuable. The original ring is now considered priceless because of its connections to Diana and Kate, but its market value has more than tripled in the 30 years since Charles slipped it on Diana’s finger. So for those who want to celebrate that romance still exists, fairy tales can happen and that we all have a holiday because of Wills and Kate, commemorate this historical event by treating yourself or someone you love to a beautiful piece of ageless jewellery. As Marsha Bryant points out “a diamond may be a girl’s best friend but a sapphire represents the woman herself,” and all of us can be a queen or princess in somebody’s heart!