On the anniversaries of national tragedies, we often hear people sharing stories of where they were when they heard the news and how it affected them. I clearly remember where I was when I learned what was happening on 9/11, and I have equally vivid memories of the space shuttle tragedy and when Princess Diana died.
I was never a “royal watcher.” I don’t think I even watched her wedding. But when I was at my grandmother’s house and the late-night news anchor interrupted David Letterman to announce that Princess Diana had died, I shocked myself by weeping. My grandmother, in her eighties at the time, asked me what had happened and I tried to explain–but this sweet little woman from a small North Carolina town was even less of a royal watcher than I was. I knew when I told her that it didn’t have the same impact on her as it was having on me, and after she went to bed, I stayed up for hours watching the news and crying.
I’m so glad that whenever Princess Diana is remembered on television or in other media, her charitable work is part of the story. I think she looks happier and more at ease in photos and videos with patients and children than she did in royal settings.
Possibly because I felt like I didn’t pay enough attention to Princess Diana and the charitable work she did while she was alive, or because I’ve always had a soft spot for her adorable sons, especially William, I have since become a bit of a royal watcher. I watched Kate marry William and become Duchess of Cambridge; I watched shows about their lengthy and nontraditional courtship; and I think their children are ridiculously cute. I love that Kate wears clothes from The Gap sometimes and shocks the world by wearing her outfits more than once, ha! I love how real they seem, or at least how real and normal they’re trying to be while living in a gilded fish bowl. And I love that Kate wears Princess Diana’s sapphire engagement ring, as the bride of Diana’s oldest son.
Princess Diana’s engagement ring featured an oval 12-carat Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds, all set in 18 karat white gold. Valued at just under $50,000 when purchased in 1981, my research on the ring’s current value is conflicting, ranging from half a million dollars to $50 million dollars, provenance included. But it might not be the provenance you’d expect!
You might think that Prince Charles would have chosen a historical ring from the British Crown Jewels–but not so. Ever the princess of the people, Diana chose the ring from the existing inventory of London jewelers Garrard & Co. This caused the term “commoner’s sapphire” to be attached to the ring, because it was a stock ring that anyone could buy, not a custom-made piece or a royal heirloom. It is believed that Diana wanted a sapphire engagement ring and chose this one from the selection offered to her because it reminded her of her mother’s engagement ring.
Now Princess Diana’s engagement ring has new fame as Princess Kate’s engagement ring, and royal watcher or not, you have the opportunity to make your own with our Princess Kate Engagement Ring Kit. Jewelry artist Bobbi Maw designed a version of the iconic ring for a ring making project in the October/November 2016 issue of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine, and in the Princess Kate Engagement Ring Kit, you’ll get that magazine along with the Swarovski crystals and sterling silver wire needed to make the ring. Wouldn’t it be fun to order a bunch of these and have all the special girls in your life over for a royal ring making party? Big outrageous hats optional!