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Standing the Test of Time: Unforgettable Famous Wedding Rings


The wedding ring is a lasting symbol of matrimonial bliss, at least for a time. No matter what happens in some high-profile couplings, one thing stands the test of time (and jewelry-snob blog writers): the wedding ring. Some rings, for a variety of reasons, seem to really resonate with people. We appreciate their size and luxury, sure, but sometimes it’s more about just how beautiful or storied the ring is. I’ve compiled my favorites into a short list, which I have selected for their diversity, history, and elegance. For my top three selections, we’ll go in chronological order, since there is no way I could pick a favorite.

Audrey Hepburn Wedding Ring

We’ll start with Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn has become synonymous with class, elegance, and understated sophistication. It should come as no surprise that her wedding ring embodied all of these admirable traits. What is surprising though, is that I love this ring. There isn’t a large center diamond, or colored stones, or really much in the way of stones at all. But that is part of the charm. Audrey must have felt it too. In August 1954, in a garden looking out over Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, Mel Ferrer proffered Audrey a trio of stackable rings.

Audrey’s rings were way ahead of her time in terms of metal mixing. Each of her three rings were a different color gold: one white, one yellow, and one rose. The yellow and rose gold rings have a geometric diamond pattern on them, while the white gold ring is an eternity band harboring 1.5 carats of baguette shaped diamonds, laid lengthwise. Although Audrey Hepburn is an icon of style and fashion, we do not see from her the six- or seven-figure valued wedding ring that one might expect from a lady of her fame. Her wedding set would be worth a genteel $10,000 today.

Audrey’s ring doesn’t fit the traditional look we have come to expect in contemporary American wedding culture. And it is this modern and sophisticated take on wedding jewelry that landed Audrey’s three stackable bands on my list of best wedding rings. If you want to take a page out of Audrey’s playbook and rock a multi-band wedding set, check out this pairing: Natalie is a diamond eternity band with nearly a full carat of round brilliant cut diamonds, channel set (like Audrey’s!), paired with Raffaello, which features a two-tone triangular notch pattern, paying homage to the multi-tone and geometric motifs in Audrey’s wedding set.

Lady Diana & Kate Middleton Wedding Ring

Moving forward nearly three decades, and jumping across the pond, we come to our second entry on my list: Princess Diana. We’ve talked a little about Diana’s wedding ring in a past blog about royal wedding jewelry traditions, which you can check out here. Princess Diana’s ring is an oval 12-carat Ceylon sapphire surrounded by a halo of round brilliant cut diamonds, all set in white gold.

Princess Diana’s wedding ring is special for several reasons, including the fact that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge now sports that very same ring on her finger. After their mother passed, Princes William and Harry reportedly selected mementos from her collection. Interestingly, it was Prince Harry who had chosen the iconic Garrad ring given to his mother by his father. By the time Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton, the boys had traded mementos, with Harry now being in possession of his mother’s yellow gold Cartier watch, originally picked by William.

My favorite fact about the much-copied sapphire ring (with a diamond halo) is that when Princess Diana initially selected this ring in early 1981, it was off-the-rack, if you’ll pardon the fashion term. The ring, made by jeweler Garrard, was available as part of their current collection. This was not the norm, with most royal betrothals being made with a custom-made, one-of-a-kind ring, and therefore created quite the buzz. This buzz resurfaced when the ring was given to Kate Middleton; this time being called the “Commoner’s Sapphire,” in reference to the fact that Kate Middleton is not of royal blood.

I picked this ring partially because it’s the most-oft copied piece of wedding jewelry, but more so because it is a sapphire. Sapphires are amazing stones. They are corundum, which if they are red, go by the name of ruby. All other colors are sapphires. Blue is what pops into our mind when we think of sapphire, but they come in many colors, like orange, yellow, and pink (in fact, pink sapphires are the most expensive because they are the most highly sought after). Although more rare than diamonds, sapphires aren’t as costly because there isn’t as high a demand for them.

Also like diamonds, sapphires are hard stones. On the Mohs scale, which measures the hardness of minerals, diamonds are a ten, meaning nothing is harder than them. The Mohs scale does not measure the absolute hardness of a mineral; it measures the hardness in relation to other minerals. The higher on the Mohs scale, the fewer things can scratch it. Diamonds are at the top, meaning they’re not able to be scratched by anything else. Right underneath that is a sapphire, with a Mohs hardness of nine. It looks impressive, right? Just slightly less hard than a diamond. But that’s not the whole picture, since Mohs ratings are a relative assessment. If you were to look at an absolute hardness rating, you’d find that diamonds are in fact FOUR times harder than corundum (which is sapphire).

One more quick sapphire fact, and then we’ll move on. Diana’s ring held a Ceylon sapphire (Ceylon being the old English name for Sri Lanka, which is an island off the coast of India). Ceylon sapphires are prized because of their color. A Ceylon sapphire is the most exquisite cornflower blue. It is therefore the most expensive. The price of sapphires goes down as the stone gets lighter or darker in relation to that perfect cornflower blue. It shouldn’t surprise you then to find out that just the sapphire in Diana/Kate’s ring is worth approximately $300,000.

Carrie Underwood Wedding Ring

While we’re on the subject of colored stones, remember that diamonds also come in fancy colors. Just take a look at singer Carrie Underwood’s colossal yellow diamond wedding ring. Her five carat canary yellow diamond is flawless (meaning it has literally NO imperfections visible at 10x magnification). Five carats is an enormous diamond to be flawless, let alone a bright yellow. This makes Carrie’s diamond quite impressive. The colored center stone is what earned Carrie’s ring a spot on my list.

Yellow diamonds are interesting things, because the color grading scale for diamonds generally decreases the value as the yellow tint increases. Diamonds are graded on an alphabetic scale, with D being the very brightest white (which actually means clear and colorless when you’re talking about a diamond) and going on down to Z. Now, most diamonds you’ll see in wedding rings is going to be from D to J. Anything more than that, and the diamond will look noticeably off-white or yellow-tinged. You’re not going to find much in jewelry that has been graded in the middle or end of the alphabet. And as yellow as a Z diamond looks, that is not yellow enough to be considered a fancy yellow diamond. A fancy colored diamond is going to be a yellow stone that is more yellow than a Z graded diamond or is a color other than yellow (like pink or blue). Of all the fancy colored diamonds, red is the rarest.

In the end, I chose these rings because of their exceptional distinctiveness and allure. But any ring you wear will be distinctive and alluring, not necessarily because of its merits, but because of who gave it to you and what it represents.

Until we meet again,




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