There is no more important piece of jewellery than the engagement ring. The most significant piece of sentimental jewellery in any woman’s collection, and the most often worn, the engagement ring encapsulates the enduring style of the famous women who wore them, and becomes a part of their legendary romances.
Queen Victoria, whose royal romance with Prince Albert was one of deep romantic attachment, unusual in such arrangements where duty is paramount, wore an engagement ring in the form of a serpent. Though a seemingly curious choice by today’s standards, it was a motif typical of the age, symbolizing good luck and eternal love. In 1904 Eleanor Roosevelt, one of America’s most eminent First Ladies, received a claw set diamond solitaire engagement ring on a gold band by Tiffany & Co, the now archetypal form. The original “blonde bombshell”, actress Gene Harlow wore a whopping 150 carat cabochon sapphire Art Deco ring upon her engagement to actor William Howell in 1935. A decidedly more modest choice, in the next decade the now Queen Elizabeth II received from Prince Philip a 3 carat diamond set in platinum, the shoulders set with four smaller diamonds, the stones taken from his mother’s tiara.
The 1950s saw a series of famous engagements, one being that of Jacqueline Bouvier to future President John F Kennedy. He presented Jackie with a ring from Van Cleef & Arpels containing a 2.88 carat diamond mounted beside a 2.84 carat emerald, and surrounded by additional accent stones. In 1954, Joe DiMaggio proposed to Marilyn Monroe with a platinum band ring with channel set baguette cut diamonds from Harry Winston. The following year royalty and Hollywood became one in the engagement of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier III of Monaco, with a 12 carat emerald cut diamond and platinum ring. And moving from a prince to “The King”, in 1966 Elvis Presley proposed to Priscilla with a 3.5 carat diamond ring surrounded by twenty two smaller diamonds, breaking the hearts of millions of female fans worldwide. Perhaps the most famous engagement ring in recent decades, Lady Diana Spencer was given an impressive sapphire and diamond cluster ring by Prince Charles, sparking a trend for engagement rings featuring this blue stone.
Pick your favourite celebrated lady and see if your tastes match!