It is hard to think about Princess Diana without thinking about her magnificent collection of Sapphire jewellery. She was synonymous with the dark blue jewel from the moment she entered the public eye and over the years she managed to build a sumptuous collection featuring some outstanding pieces .
The Engagement Ring
Undoubtedly, her most famous Sapphire piece was her engagement ring.
In February 1981 when Charles, Prince of Wales proposed to Lady Diana Spencer, he presented her with a selection of engagement rings from the Crown Jeweller, Garrard. According to royal authors, Diana told her butler she picked the Sapphire ring because ‘It was the biggest!’.
The now renowned ring features 14 Round Brilliant Cut Diamonds surrounding a 12 Carat Oval Blue Ceylon Sapphire set in 18ct White Gold.
Although a stunning ring, it was seen as an unconventional choice. Unlike previous Royal engagement rings, it was a stock item and not a bespoke commission. Embarrassingly, this meant that the ring was already in the Garrard catalogue with its price tag of £28,500, leading to some calling the ring the “Commoner’s Sapphire”. Princess Diana wore the ring all through her marriage and even after her divorce. At some point, she had the ring altered to feature more claws on the central sapphire stone.
After her death in 1997, Princes William and Harry selected mementos from their mother’s possessions. Harry chose the engagement ring, while William selected Diana’s Cartier Tank Francaise watch.
However the brothers had agreed that the first one to get engaged could have the ring. Therefore, when Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in 2010, he used his mother’s ring.
William later said that giving the ring to his fiancée was a “way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement.”
The Queen Mother’s Sapphire and Diamond Brooch
Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother gave Diana an enormous Sapphire and Diamond cluster brooch as a wedding present.
In the early years of her marriage, Diana wore the piece very conventionally, as seen here during the Dutch State Visit in 1982
But by 1985, Princess Diana had converted the brooch into her iconic Sapphire, Diamond and Pearl Choker which she famously wore when she danced with John Travolta at the White House.
She continued to wear the choker at formal events but the most memorable appearance of this spectacular necklace was in 1994, when the Princess wore the piece with the ‘Revenge’ dress on the night the Prince Charles confessed to adultery with Camilla Parker Bowles on National TV.
The last time the choker was seen publicly was when Diana attended the Met Gala in New York in December 1996. It hasn’t been seen or exhibited since, and now belongs to Prince William and Prince Harry.
The Saudi Sapphire Suite
Another bejewelled wedding present came from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. He gifted the new bride a glittering suite of Sapphire and Diamond jewellery from the London jewellers, Asprey.
The set featured a matching necklace, ring, earrings, bracelet and wristwatch all presented in a Green Malachite Box with the Saudi Coat of Arms embossed on the cover.
Diana was very versatile and inventive with her jewels and this particular suite became heavily altered over the years.
Originally, this piece featured a large Burmese Sapphire and Diamond pendant set on a baguette diamond tennis necklace. Princess Diana later converted the necklace so that it could accommodate her Prince of Wales feathers diamond pendant.
The Earrings, The Ring and the Watch
The Earrings remained untouched but according to research by various members of the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board, The Ring and the Watch may have been combined with other jewels to create several different pieces over the years.
The Watch into Earrings
It was claimed by Leslie Field in The Queen’s Jewels published in 1987 that “Four of the sapphire and diamond clusters from the watch strap were made into a pair of earrings, with two of the clusters as detachable pendant drops”
The Ring and Watch
If the above is correct then the Sapphire and Diamond Clusters were returned to their original form and merged with the Ring for a White House Dinner 1996
The Sapphire Headband and Chokers
Diana enjoyed reinventing her jewels and the origins of her famous Headband and Chokers included some of her Saudi Sapphires.
It was often assumed that Diana had used the Saudi Sapphire Bracelet to create her first Bandeau when she premiered it in Japan in 1986 but both can be seen in this picture.
It is now believed to have originated from yet another one of her wedding presents. The gift was a one of a kind ‘Lady Kalla’ wristwatch by Vacheron Constantin. Made from 18ct White Gold, the watch was set with 132 Emerald cut diamonds, totalling almost 30 carats.
The Bandeau Headband featured an unknown Pear Cut Sapphire in the centre but in later Chokers, Diana appears to have used the Saudi Sapphire Ring as the Central Element.