How Princess Diana broke royal protocol with ‘commoner’ jewelry ahead of royal wedding

The Princess of Wales' jewelry received strong criticism...

(Image credit: Getty)

Princess Diana broke royal tradition by choosing an engagement ring from a jewellery company rather than the Royal Family's collection. 

Princess Diana received strong backlash for breaking a longstanding royal tradition ahead of her wedding to Prince Charles, after choosing an engagement ring that hadn't been custom-made for her. 

Princess Diana broke royal tradition ahead of her iconic wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, after choosing an engagement ring that hadn't been specially designed for her. 

Historically, royal brides would have their prenuptial jewelry custom made for them, to ensure that the pieces were completely unique and could not be found on the High Street. For example, the Queen's engagement ring had been created by Prince Philip using diamonds from a tiara owned by his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, while Princess Margaret's ruby one was designed by her fiancé, Antony Armstrong-Jones. 

The Princess of Wales, however, decided to change things up by selecting a ring that could technically be worn by anybody - so long as they could afford it, of course. The Spencer heiress's sapphire blue engagement ring was designed by Garrard, a luxury jeweler based in Mayfair, London. 

Believed to be inspired by the blue bridal brooch worn by Queen Victoria on her wedding day to Prince Albert, the stunning accessory boasted a 12-carat oval sapphire encrusted by 14 round diamonds and cost a whopping £47,000 ($60,000). Princess Diana also re-designed the engagement ring slightly, with some insiders speculating the tweaking was simply for resizing purposes. 


(Image credit: Getty)

While the ring was made by Garrard for Diana, it was also featured as a product in the company's catalog. As such, it became available to buy by members of the public (albeit, very rich ones). 

The British mediadidn't hold back with their criticism of the ring, with many tabloids slating it as the 'Commoner's Sapphire'. 

Despite this negative press, the style would become incredibly popular with brides-to-be in both the UK and abroad. Today, the most famous piece of Princess Diana's jewelry resides on the finger of her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with the ring in Kenya in October 2010, seven months before they tied the knot at Westminster Abbey. It's understood that Kate, like Diana, also had the ring resized for optimal fit. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.