All About Grace Kelly's History-Making Engagement Ring
Grace Kelly's name is synonymous with timeless, classic Hollywood style. So it should come as no surprise that her engagement ring has been described as such, too. From the moment Kelly met Prince Rainier III of Monaco at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955, her life has become the stuff of fairy tales. The couple embarked on a months-long, distanced courtship; Rainier eventually traveled to the actress's hometown in Philadelphia that Christmas to propose.
The initial engagement ring that the royal presented to Kelly wasn't the one that is most associated with the To Catch a Thief actress today—though it was, arguably, no less meaningful. The lesser-known engagement ring was a Cartier eternity band comprised of heirloom rubies and diamonds, with the red and white of the jewels symbolizing his home country's flag. (Some say the eternity ring was always meant to be a placeholder for the later engagement ring, while others say that the second engagement ring came about by chance.) So how did Kelly's 10.48-carat Cartier emerald-cut engagement ring actually enter the picture? Read on to find out.
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The engagement ring most associated with Grace Kelly is an impressive 10.48-carat ring purported to be one of the priciest celebrity jewels in history. Designed specifically for Kelly by Cartier, the ring features a large emerald-cut diamond flanked by two baguette-cut side stones. (Kelly's choice of the classic emerald-cut diamond has sparked innumerable copycats throughout history, including other celebrities who chose similar diamond engagement rings, like Amal Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, and Liz Taylor.)
The actress's relationship with Cartier reportedly began through film director Alfred Hitchcock, who had worked with Kelly on several films. Hitchcock introduced Kelly to the House of Cartier, and from there, the actress and designer collaborated many times. In fact, there is an entire room in Cartier's mansion in New York City that pays homage to Princess Grace.
The Princess of Monaco's second Cartier engagement ring reportedly cost a jaw-dropping $4 million to make, a high price tag even among other celebrity and royal engagement rings. By contrast, another much-buzzed-about engagement ring, Kate Middleton's (previously belonging to Princess Diana), is worth an estimated $500,000 today. Even Jacqueline Kennedy's engagement ring, which cost an estimated $2.6 million to make, didn't reach quite the levels of extravagance that Kelly's did. According to Jewellry Box, Kelly's diamond engagement ring is worth an estimated $38.8 million today, making it one of the most expensive of all time. Presently, the Cartier engagement ring belongs to the House of Grimaldi.
The History and Meaning
Following their engagement in the winter of 2010, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier announced the happy news to the public in a press conference from her family home in Philadelphia. At that time, the Oscar winner was still wearing her first engagement ring. It wasn't until the actress was set to film High Society, the last film she would star in before retiring from Hollywood, that the second engagement ring would enter the picture.
Rumor has it that Kelly needed to wear an oversize engagement ring for the film, and when Prince Rainier caught wind of this, he offered to buy Kelly a real one instead of having her wear a fake one procured by the costume department. The actress naturally agreed, and Rainier commissioned Cartier to create the 10.48-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring that has now become synonymous with Kelly's name.
The ring is a prominent part of the film itself: in the movie, Kelly plays a wealthy socialite pursuing relationships with three love interests, including her fiancé, who gifted her a diamond engagement ring. In one scene of the movie, another character actually remarks on the size of the diamond; in yet another, Kelly can be seen polishing the ring and admiring it. Knowing that the diamond ring is, in fact, Kelly's real-life engagement ring only adds to the intrigue surrounding the ring and the story behind it.
Kelly and Rainier got married in 1956, with the princess donning a now-iconic lace and silk taffeta wedding dress that all but overshadowed the royal wedding itself. And just as she had two engagement rings, Kelly also donned two different wedding outfits: the first, and lesser-known, one was a pastel pink fitted dress that she wore for their civil ceremony the day before their big religious ceremony. The couple would go on to enjoy 26 years of marriage and had three children together before she suffered a stroke and died from injuries sustained in a car accident in 1982.
Following her untimely death, both of Kelly's enduring engagement rings were given to the House of Grimaldi for safekeeping. Of Kelly's timeless style, legendary designer Oscar de la Renta famously said, "On her wedding day, Grace Kelly gave new meaning to the word icon. Her whole look, from the regal veil to the feminine lace details and the conservative gown, made her an ageless bride."