10 of the most famous wedding rings in history
A few very special rings have captured the imagination of more than their iconic owners. They’ve become instantly recognisable icons in their own right.
Mary of Burgundy’s tradition-setting triumph
It’s not size or expense that puts Mary of Burgundy’s little sparkler on the list. It was timing! Back in the 15th century, Mary was the only child and heiress to the wealthy Low Countries and the Burgundian domains located in modern-day France. She received the first of many proposals when she was just five years old. The Archduke Maximilian of Austria won her hand in 1477 and commissioned a special gift for his bride: a ring set with thin, flat diamonds in the shape of an ‘M’. This special ring would ignite the trend of diamond wedding rings.
Princess Diana’s stunning sapphire
The ring now seen on HRH the Duchess of Cambridge’s finger was once worn by her husband’s late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. The ring was somewhat controversial in Lady Di’s circle. Diana is said to have chosen the 12-carat Ceylon sapphire surrounded by diamonds because she truly thought it beautiful. The ring was not custom-made, unique or exceptionally expensive.
Called ‘the Commoner’s Ring‘ by detractors, the slight references both Diana’s less-than-royal origins and the ring’s perceived lack of sophistication. Since then, however, it has become the queen of famous engagement rings!
Jacqueline Kennedy’s emerald and diamond duo
Leave it to Jacqueline Kennedy to make a statement of elegance and fashion. This stylish stunner is the one people remember gracing Jackie’s hand. (The massive 40-carat Lestotho III given to her by her second husband, Aristotle Onassis, was only worn twice before being locked in a vault until after her death.)
The unusual creation features a duo of dynamic stones: a 2.88-carat diamond and a 2.84-carat emerald. Crafted by Van Cleef & Arpels, this ring was set in the company’s signature French style with tapered baguettes that gave the setting a branching, floral look.
Elizabeth Taylor’s amazing asscher-cut diamond
Elizabeth Taylor may be more famous for the number of wedding rings she collected, but this one is particularly memorable. Five years into their marriage, Richard Burton (husband #5 and #6) gifted Taylor with the Krupp Diamond. It’s a 33.19-carat asscher-cut stone now known as the Taylor-Burton Diamond. A great lover of all her ‘important pieces’, as she called her jewels, she wore this massive ring nearly every day during their marriage and even after.
Kim Kardashian’s cushion-cut creation
Kanye West spared no expense when he designed the reality star’s 15-carat, cushion-cut diamond ring. Its massive size and near-constant presence in social media and television coverage has impressed this stone into the collective consciousness of an international audience.
Princess Grace’s baguette-flanked beauty
Prince Ranier III originally proposed to actress Grace Kelly with an eternity band of rubies and diamonds. However, when he saw that her contemporaries in Hollywood followed the trend of flashy diamond rings rather than the royal tradition of coloured stones, he ordered a 10.5-carat, emerald-cut diamond ring flanked by a pair of baguettes from Cartier. It was well-suited to both the Princess and the leading lady.
Queen Elizabeth II's platinum tiara treasure
On her hand daily is the Queen’s elegant three-carat diamond solitaire set with five smaller stones on each side. This lovely piece was given to her by Prince Phillip and made from stones from his mother’s tiara. Royal insiders say that when Her Majesty begins to twist this ever-present symbol on her finger, she has had quite enough of whatever is transpiring!
Mariah Carey’s enormous emerald-cut diamond
Mariah Carey’s massive 35-carat, platinum-set diamond is a mere 10 carats short of the Hope Diamond, if you need a reference point to understand its enormity.
Marilyn Monroe’s unique baguette band
Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio was likely the love of Marilyn’s short life and he gifted his bride in 1954 with a trend-setting platinum eternity band of 35 baguette-cut diamonds. Understated and elegant, this style was miles ahead of its time and remains popular today.
Angelina Jolie’s rejected rectangular diamond
Conflict-free and collaboratively-designed by her husband and jeweller, Jolie’s 16-carat ring is the finest quality and custom-made to suit the actress and philanthropist’s hand. What more could she want? This rectangular ring is somewhat famous for having often been conspicuously absent from its owner’s hand. Rumours abounded that Jolie didn’t like the ring but the couple and jeweller Robert Procop have adamantly denied the accusation. They say the simple gold band she often sports in its place is simply more appropriate in some of the developing or war-torn nations she visits.
Whether it’s for their special beauty or for their dramatic stories, these rings have become part of history.