Kate Middleton's sapphire and diamond engagement ring has always been linked to Princess Diana. After all, Prince Charles used that very ring to ask William and Harry's mother to marry him. The history of its origins, however, predates the royal women who have worn it.
The famous oval sapphire and clustered diamond design was first seen in the mid-19th century, when Prince Albert commissioned the British jeweler Garrard to create a brooch for his bride, Queen Victoria. The House of Garrard, still thriving today, confirmed that the young queen admired the gift so much that she wore it during the wedding ceremony. "She decided to wear it on her wedding day as her something blue on the front of her dress," Sara Prentice, Garrard's creative director, told Vogue.
The bauble remained Queen Victoria's favorite piece throughout her entire life, and made it a Crown heirloom—which meant that it would always belong to the monarch—before her death. When the reigning Queen Elizabeth inherited the brooch, it's beauty stunned her and her eldest son, too. "It was said to be a strong influence on Prince Charles when he came to Garrard to purchase a ring for Lady Diana," Prentice said. "I would imagine growing up being surrounded by your mother and your grandmother [with] such beautiful, incredible jewelry...it would stick with you."
After Diana's death, Prince William and Harry inherited several of her prized valuables—but according to an anonymous source, it was actually Harry who selected the ring for his own future wife. When the time came from Prince William to propose to Middleton, Harry reportedly sacrificed the piece for his future sister-in-law, so that Diana could be a part of her first son's marriage. "When it came to the wedding, I did really feel that she was there," William told People earlier this year.