Perhaps the most famous engagement ring was given by Prince Charles of Great Britain to Princess Diana in 1981. The ring sparked an early controversy. Diana selected the ring herself from a collection offered by The House of Garrad, a jewelry house with a long history with the crown. At the time, Garrad offered the ring to the public; it was not custom made like other royal engagement rings. Given the history of the marriage and Diana’s tragic death, the ring resonates a bit of rebellion and sadness. But, more importantly, the ring resonates a deep love shared by Diana and her sons. It now graces the finger of a future queen consort, a joyful acknowledgment of love.
The ring features a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds, set in 18-karat white gold. A current estimated value is about $550,000, but given the ring’s provenance, it is priceless.
The sapphire in Diana’s ring is comprised of the mineral corundum, a dense and hard substance second only to diamond. We call red corundum ruby. Other colors, even colorless, corundum are called sapphire. White Orchid Studio paired translucent white sapphires with golden south sea pearls and 18-karat yellow gold to create our necklace “Fire and Ice.”
Our earrings “Taji” (available by commission) repeats the combination.
White Orchid Studio designs with sapphires in mind. So, let’s explore a little more of these wonderful gems together. The soils of Burma, Kashmir and Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon before 1972) famously give us blue sapphires, favored by jewelers and the public. We cherish Ceylon sapphires, like the one in Diana’s ring, for their vivid color, tending toward a lighter and brighter blue than the dark blue sapphires from Australia and Thailand.
Fancy Sapphires: Mother Nature gives us sapphires in a range of colors. In general, the more intense and uniform the color, the more valuable the gem. Fancy sapphires can be pink, orange, yellow, green, purple, and violet.[i] Next time you want to shop for anything other than red rubies or blue sapphires, ask for fancy sapphires.
For ages I’ve planned, and shopped the world of gems, for fancy sapphires for a bib necklace that mimics the look of mandarin ducks. It takes time to find and collect just the right gems. I have a pair of blue sapphire wings to use for a clasp and several strands of yellow, blue, and hot orange sapphires. Stay tuned as the creation process continues.
[i] For more visit https://www.gia.edu/sapphire-quality-factor