Grace Kelly became an icon the world over when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956. She had first met the Prince in 1955 when she visited Monaco for a publicity photo shoot with the French magazine ‘Paris Match’. They courted via letters and 7 months later, on his first visit to America, Rainier proposed to Grace at her parents house in Philadelphia.
However, when the announcement was made to the waiting photographers, the famous diamond that we are now all familiar with was not the ring that Miss Kelly presented to the world’s press.
Rainier had presented Grace with an eternity style band featuring rubies and diamonds from his family’s collection. Rubies and Diamonds would play a theme in Grace’s future jewellery as Red and White are the national colours of Monaco.
The ring was described in the Philadelphia Inquirer as “a handsome engagement ring, which the Prince had ordered fashioned from two family heirlooms, in the form of a diamond circlet and ruby circlet intertwined”.
There are conflicting reports as to why this initial ring was later replaced. Some say Rainier had not intended to proposed so a stand in was hurriedly arranged. Others say that after spending some time in Hollywood and seeing the large engagements rings being worn by the other movie stars, Rainier did not want to be outdone.
However it came to be, by the time Grace started filming her last film for MGM (High Society) in 1956, she was seen to be wearing the ring we all now recognise as her engagement ring.
Made by Cartier, it featured a stunning 10.47ct Emerald Cut diamond set in platinum with two baguette cut diamonds flanking either side of the impressive central stone.
Although she did not wear the ring all the time, she did continue to wear it throughout her life.
After her tragic death in 1982, Princess Grace’s jewellery became part of the ‘Palais Princier de Monaco Collection’.
This Collection encompasses not only jewels but fine art, furniture and Prince Rainier’s famous vintage cars. The jewels are available for use by any member of the Grimaldi family (Princess Caroline has been their main wearer) but the engagement ring remains unworn. Instead, the Grimaldi’s have generously loaned out it out to various exhibitions so that it can be enjoyed by all.