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April Sparkle: Diana’s Diamonds


John Mathew Smith/CC/Wikimedia Commons

Diana, Princess of Wales was the first wife of Prince Charles and the mother of Prince William and Prince Harry. During her lifetime, the Princess had an extensive jewellery collection. Both of jewels she owned as a member of the British Royal Family and as a private individual.

The jewels range from presents from foreign royalty, jewels on loan from Her Majesty, wedding presents, jewels purchased by Diana herself, and heirlooms belonging to the Spencer family. The jewels are separate from the coronation and state regalia of the Crown Jewels.

Early Jewellery:

Prior to marrying Charles, Diana owned some high-quality jewellery as she came from an affluent aristocratic family. The Princess often wore a diamond and white gold eternity ring from the family’s collection – a ring that was rarely seen in public during her marriage to Charles.

As a teenager, Diana wore a gold choker with a ‘D’ pendant. In 2017, the sterling silver necklace sold at an auction for about $8,000. While dating Charles, Diana was also photographed wearing sterling silver earrings with five diamonds.

Wedding Jewels:

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29 July 1981, the world watched as Diana married Prince Charles at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. On her wedding day, Diana wore very little jewellery. However, the items she wore had a personal connection.

Frances Shand Kydd diamond earrings

Diana borrowed her mother’s diamond earrings. The pear-shaped diamond was surrounded by about 50 smaller diamonds. The Princess never wore them in public again. Her mother, Frances did wear them on a number of important occasions including Prince Harry’s christening in 1984 and Diana’s funeral in 1997.

When Frances died in 2004, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, her eldest daughter, inherited the earrings. For many years, they were part of a travelling Diana exhibition. In 2011, Lady Sarah withdrew them from the display to wear at Prince William’s wedding ball.

The Spencer family tiara

The tiara is said to date from the 18th century and over the years has gone through several changes. While the oldest parts of the tiara still remain, the centre element was a wedding present from Lady Sarah Isabella Spencer to Cynthia, Viscountess Althorp (Diana’s grandmother) when she married in 1919.

Remounted by Silversmith’s Company at some point, the current appearance dates to about 1935. Both of Diana’s older sisters, Jane and Sarah, wore the piece at their weddings. But it was not worn by their mother, Frances when she married into the Spencer family in 1954.

For her wedding, The Queen loaned Diana the Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara. However, she decided to stick to her family roots and wear the Spencer Tiara. She frequently wore it over the years as it was lighter and easier to wear than other tiaras. According to her brother, Charles, the tiara gave Diana a “cracking headache” as she was not used to wearing a tiara for such a long period of time.

Tiaras and headbands:

Queen Mary’s diamond and emerald choker
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Made from a present of emeralds and diamonds from the Ladies of India, the Art Deco choker was created by Garrad’s in 1921 for Queen Mary. Later on, it was given as a wedding gift to Diana from The Queen, who had inherited the piece from her grandmother in 1953.

For her 22nd birthday, the Prince of Wales presented Diana with a diamond and emerald Art Deco bracelet to match. Currently, the choker is in The Queen’s collection.

Diamond and sapphire choker
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This piece was created from a ring and watch from the Princess’s Saudi Arabian sapphire and diamond suite, a present from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Diana wore the choker on her forehead at a banquet during a visit to Japan.

Necklaces and pendants:

Swan Lake necklace
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Created by Garrad & Co and made out of 187 diamonds and five South Sea pearls, Diana wore the necklace to a performance of Swan Lake at Royal Albert Hall with the event just happening two months before her death. The necklace was created together with a set of earrings.

Following her death, it was sold to a Ukrainian couple in 2010. That couple later put it on sale at Guernsey’s in 2017. At the time, it was estimated to be worth $12 million USD.

Eleven-strand pearl choker
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Worn often by Diana, the choker was made out of 900 pearls paired with columns of diamonds and rubies. One of her favourite pieces, she often wore it at theatre performances and film premiers.

Rings:

Engagement ring
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It’s perhaps one of the most infamous pieces of jewellery in the world, Diana’s engagement ring. 14 solitaire diamonds surround a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire, set in 18-karat white gold. It was created by then-crown jeweller, Garrad.

At the time of selecting the ring, it was available to anyone for purchase. Some say Diana selected it because it reminded her of her mother’s engagement ring while some say she chose it because of its large size. Following her divorce from Prince Charles, Diana continued to wear the ring.

Diana and Charles’ eldest son, Prince Wiliam proposed to Catherine Middleton with the ring in the autumn of 2010 in Kenya.

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Aquamarine ring
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During her lifetime, Diana had a collection of aquamarine jewels. The “emerald cut Aquamarine stunner” was first worn at an auction of her clothes in 1997. It’s believed the Princess had worn the ring as a replacement of her wedding band and engagement ring. It was once worn again during a visit to Sydney, Australia in the summer of 1997.

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Following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2018 wedding, Meghan was seen wearing the ring as she and Harry rode off to their reception at Windsor Castle.

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Meghan’s engagement ring contains two diamonds from Diana’s personal collection. The third diamond comes from Botswana – a place close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussexes’ hearts.

Diana, Princess of Wales died in a fatal car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.