The 15 Most Iconic Royal Engagement Rings & Their Fascinating Histories

We're spilling the royal tea on these dazzling gems.
Collage of royal engagement rings.
Photos: Chris Jackson | Getty Images
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Entertainment & Celebrity Editor
  • Sarah is the Entertainment & Celebrity Editor for The Knot, with special focuses on pop culture and celebrity wedding news.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated May 04, 2023

There are engagement rings, and then there are royal engagement rings. While we love analyzing the wedding jewelry of celebrities, there's something different about the engagement rings of royals. Thanks to their rich historical significance and the lasting trends they've inspired, you don't have to be a royal expert to know that their engagement rings are some of the most incredible in the world.

According to Jillian Sassone, jewelry designer and founder of Marrow Fine, there's a reason we're all so enthralled by the engagement rings of royals, and it goes far beyond general curiosity. "People are captivated by royal engagement rings because they represent fairytale-like romances and timeless elegance," she tells us. "The history and tradition of royal families, passed down from generation to generation, adds to the allure and mystique of these rings. From beautiful proposals to grand weddings, royal engagements capture our imagination and transport us to a world of glamor and enchantment."

If that sounds like you, you're in the right place. Here, we look back on the 15 most iconic royal engagement rings throughout history, along with their fascinating backstories and the trends they continue to spark today.

Our Celebrity Editor's Ultimate Royal Engagement Ring Ranking

We've seen countless incredible royal engagement rings over the years, so it's hard to rank them in order of best to worst—because when it comes to aristocratic gemstones, it's nearly impossible to be bad. That said, there are some designs that stand out from others, which we break down here. Then, read on to learn more about the most notable engagement rings of royals.

Most Unique: Queen Victoria's Engagement Ring

Most Famous: Princess Diana and Kate Middleton's Engagement Ring

Most Sentimental: Meghan Markle's Engagement Ring

Most Timeless: Queen Elizabeth II's Engagement Ring

Most Influential: Grace Kelly's Engagement Ring

Queen Elizabeth II's Engagement Ring

Queen Elizabeth's royal engagement ring.
Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library | Getty Images

Prince Philip secretly proposed to Queen Elizabeth II in 1946 with a ring he designed himself. He used diamonds from a tiara belonging to his mother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark. Queen Elizabeth's engagement ring featured a timeless 3-carat round-cut diamond center stone set in white metal with 10 smaller diamonds on the band. After her wedding day, she completed her ring stack with a simple gold band made from a nugget of Welsh gold that has produced a handful of wedding rings for members of the British royal family. This royal engagement ring certainly stood the test of time, because the queen wore it every day until her death in September 2022.

Queen Victoria's Engagement Ring

Queen Victoria's royal engagement ring.
Photo: Roger Fenton | Getty Images

Although photos are rare, Queen Victoria's engagement ring was one of the most unique royal designs we've ever seen. She proposed to Prince Albert in 1839, because she acceded to the throne in 1837 and royal precedent deemed no one could propose to an existing monarch. Upon their engagement, Albert presented her with a band in the shape of a serpent, complete with colorful gemstones to represent eyes and a mouth. Sassone, who notes that this exact ring continues to inspire her own designs today, considers it one of the best royal engagement rings in history. "Prince Albert took such care in designing this ring to have special meaning," she tells us. "Representing eternal love, Queen Victoria's serpent ring was unique and ahead of its time in many ways with ruby eyes, a diamond mouth, and a large emerald center to represent her birthstone."

So, why a serpent? She wasn't exactly in her reputation era, but she was in her trendsetting era. At the time, serpents were seen as a symbol of everlasting love. Plus, before Victorian times, the act of proposing with an engagement ring wasn't common—but Queen Victoria's reign helped normalize the act of receiving and collecting wedding jewels. "Queen Victoria's love of jewelry inspired generations of women who started to dream of creating and collecting special heirloom jewels," Sassone notes.

Princess Diana and Kate Middleton's Engagement Ring

Kate Middleton and Princess Diana's blue stone engagement ring.
Photos: Tim Graham Photo Library | Getty Images; Max Mumby/Indigo | Getty Images

One of the most famous engagement rings in the world is Princess Diana's engagement ring. The Princess of Wales broke with royal tradition in 1981 when she selected the 12-carat oval sapphire surrounded by 14 round diamonds from Garrard's existing catalog. At the time, the Queen was reportedly not pleased with the decision, because it was a stock piece that was not exclusive to the royal family. (In other words, the exact design could be purchased by anyone who had the means to shop at Garrard).

Frustrations aside, it seems as though Queen Elizabeth eventually came around to this stunning royal engagement ring because it stayed in the family. The iconic blue gemstone made history again when Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with it in 2010. The ring's reintroduction to the modern royal family sparked a flurry of excitement and buzz, and it inspired a new generation of jewelry trends. "The influence of royal engagement rings can be seen in everything from the use of colored gemstones to the incorporation of intricate details and unique settings," Sassone explains. "For example, the popularization of halo-style rings can be attributed to the engagement ring worn by Princess Diana."

Meghan Markle's Engagement Ring

Meghan Markle's diamond engagement ring.
Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo | Getty Images

When Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle in 2017, he presented her with an incredibly sentimental bauble. Meghan Markle's engagement ring is a three-stone diamond set in yellow gold. Its center stone was sourced from Botswana, a place very close to the couple's heart. In fact, it was where they embarked on their first vacation together, just weeks into their relationship. That stone is nestled between two smaller round diamonds, pulled from his late mother Princess Diana's personal collection. In 2019, one year after the couple's royal wedding, the Duchess of Sussex stepped out with an updated ring stack. She appears to have upgraded her royal engagement ring with a sparking pavé band, along with the addition of a new stacking band paired with her wedding rings.

Grace Kelly's Engagement Ring

Grace Kelly's royal engagement ring.
Photo: Art Selby / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal | Getty Images

Who wore the most expensive royal engagement ring of all time? That esteemed title belongs to Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco. The American actress-turned-royal got engaged to Prince Rainier III of Monaco over the Christmas holiday in 1955. He initially popped the question with a Cartier eternity band featuring heirloom rubies and diamonds, which symbolized his country's flag.

The royal engagement ring we associate with Grace Kelly came to be the following year when she began filming High Society. Kelly's character was set to wear an engagement ring in the film, but instead of acting with a costume prop, Prince Rainier insisted his betrothed wear the real deal. He commissioned Cartier to create a 10.48-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring, which Kelly would go on to wear as her own after the movie wrapped. Today, the royal sparkler is valued to be worth $38.8 million. Just like Grace Kelly's wedding dress would inspire millions of brides around the world, her engagement ring did the same. Similar styles have been sported by celebrities like Amal Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, and another royal on this list—keep scrolling to see who.

Princess Eugenie's Engagement Ring

Princess Eugenie's engagement ring.
Photo: Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool | Getty Images

Royal engagement rings are often associated with rare gemstones and vibrant colors, and such is the case for Princess Eugenie's engagement ring. Jack Brooksbank proposed to the princess in 2018 with a blush-colored Padparadscha sapphire ring in an elaborate diamond halo setting. Known for its vibrant pink-orange hue, the Padparadscha sapphire is usually found in Sri Lanka and translates to "lotus blossom," making the ring's botanical setting incredibly apropos. If this royal engagement ring looks familiar, there's a reason for that: Princess Eugenie's rosy sparkler is similar to the ring that her mother, Sarah, Duchess of York, received in 1986.

Princess Beatrice's Engagement Ring

Princess Beatrice's engagement ring.
Photo: Princess Eugenie/Buckingham Palace | Getty Images

Princess Eugenie's sister Princess Beatrice also has a stunning royal engagement ring. She got engaged to financier Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in 2019 with a timeless diamond ring designed by British jeweler Shaune Leane. A departure from the pink and red sparklers worn by her mother and sister, Princess Beatrice's engagement ring features a round cut diamond with side baguette details in a platinum setting. Given the diamond center stone, this engagement ring is a departure from other royal styles. It most closely resembles the royal engagement ring of Queen Elizabeth. This wasn't the only time Princess Bea emulated her grandmother, as she also repurposed one of the Queen's vintage gowns for her wedding day in 2020.

Queen Camilla's Engagement Ring

Queen Camilla's stunning engagement ring.
Photo: ARTHUR EDWARDS/AFP | Getty Images

Prince Charles proposed to Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005 with a large, emerald-cut diamond that once belonged to the Queen Mum. One of the most valuable engagement rings in the British royal family, the 5-carat art deco piece also features larger diamond baguette side stones, which seemingly resembles the engagement ring of fellow royal Grace Kelly.

Sarah Ferguson's Engagement Ring

Sarah Ferguson's ruby engagement ring.
Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library | Getty Images

Royal legend has it that Prince Andrew proposed to Sarah Ferguson in 1986 with an oval-cut Burmese ruby from Garrard because its fiery hue matched her red hair. The crimson center stone was surrounded by a floral-inspired diamond halo and set in yellow gold. While this vibrant piece may have caused ruby engagement rings to surge in popularity in the '80s, they remain a stunning choice for to-be-weds looking for a more unexpected alternative to diamonds (just ask Katy Perry).

Zara Tindall's Engagement Ring

Zara Tindall's royal engagement ring.
Photo: Indigo | Getty Images

Gloucester rugby player Mike Tindall proposed to Zara Phillips, the only daughter of Princess Anne and the eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, in 2010 with a custom-made engagement ring. Zara Tindall's engagement ring is made up of a round diamond with a split shank diamond-encrusted band set in platinum.

Wallis Simpson's Engagement Ring

Wallace Simpson's royal engagement ring.
Photo: Bettmann / Contributor | Getty Images

It was the royal scandal that changed the course of the British royal family forever. When King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry American Wallis Simpson in 1936, he presented her with a dazzling emerald ring from Cartier just shy of 20 carats. It has since been reset, but the original setting was a yellow gold mount with baguette diamond details. The inside was engraved with the phrase "We are ours now" and the date Edward proposed: Oct. 27, 1936.

Princess Margaret's Engagement Ring

Princess Margaret's royal engagement ring.
Photo: © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis | Getty Images

As an outspoken member of the British royal family, Princess Margaret rarely followed tradition—and her engagement ring was no different. When the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth got engaged to photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones, she wore a ruby and diamond engagement ring with a ruby center stone surrounded by a ring of cut diamonds made to look like flower petals. Given its rosebud-like appearance, it's believed that Princess Margaret's engagement ring was designed as a nod to her middle name, Rose.

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands' Engagement Ring

Queen Maxima's royal engagement ring.
Photo: Patrick van Katwijk | Getty Images

The best royal engagement rings aren't limited to the British monarchy. We have a soft spot for Queen Máxima's engagement ring, which is the same hue as the royal family's official color. Her sparkler boasts a rare orange oval-cut diamond set in a unique east-west orientation flanked by two diamond side stones. King Willem-Alexander turned to Dutch jewelry firm Steltman for this memorable royal engagement ring, which the Queen now styles with three additional bands. She's also been photographed wearing her wedding stack on both her left and right hands.

Queen Letizia of Spain's Engagement Ring

Queen Letizia engagement ring.
Photo: Carlos Alvarez | Getty Images

Most other royal engagement rings on this list feature a dazzling center stone, but that's not the case for Queen Letizia of Spain. Although she rarely wears it in public, the former journalist was proposed to with a stunning 16-carat diamond eternity band. The ring, which was selected for her by King Felipe, was designed by the Spanish brand Suárez. In its place, Queen Letizia often wears a similar style in a gold-plated setting.

Princess Sofia of Sweden's Engagement Ring

Princess Sofia's royal engagement ring.
Photo: MICHAEL CAMPANELLA | Getty Images

Like many other royals, the engagement ring of Princess Sofia of Sweden is set in a dazzling halo. When she got engaged to Prince Carl Philip in 2014, he popped the question with a round-cut diamond center stone set in a halo of diamonds on top of a pavé split shank band. She upped the shine factor of her ring stack after her wedding day, pairing it with an equally sparkly diamond pavé band.

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