When Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle, the unique and stunning engagement ring drew a lot of attention. The main stone is from Botswana, while the two stones that flank the 5-carat cushion cut center stone belonged to Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana. Experts estimate the ring to be worth as much as $350,000.
Prince Harry presented his soon-to-be bride with the ring back in November, and, with the wedding coming up in just a few short hours, there is still so much to learn about the ring. Aside from the sentiment and the price tag, what makes the royal ring so unique? What’s the story behind the proposal? Will Prince Harry himself even wear a ring?
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Prince Harry Designed Markle’s Engagement Ring Himself, as a Tribute to his Late Mother Princess Diana so that they would be “On This Crazy Journey Together”
Prince Harry designed the ring with personal sentiment when he decided to propose to Markle. As a touching tribute to his late mother, Princess Diana, the two smaller diamonds are from her personal collection, according to People. Set on a yellow gold band, which Harry said is Markle’s “favorite.”
“It’s obviously yellow gold because that’s [Meghan’s] favorite,” said Harry in the interview with BBC, adding that the side diamonds “are from my mother’s jewelry collection to make sure that she’s with us on this crazy journey together.”
According to Hello! Magazine, when his engagement was announced Prince Harry said “it is days like today when I really miss having her around, and miss being able to share the happy news. But, you know, with the ring and with everything else that’s going on, I’m sure she’s with us, you know, jumping up and down somewhere else.” Meghan echoed his thoughts saying: “She’s with us.”
However, the large center stone has significant meaning, too. The center stone of the ring is from Botswana, where Prince Harry traveled to while growing up, and again this past summer with Markle to celebrate her 36th birthday. Prince Harry considers the African country a “second home,” according to Readers Digest.
“I first went to Botswana in 1997, straight after my mum died. My dad told my brother and me we were going to Africa to get away from it all. This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world,” the Prince told ABC News. “I have this intense sense of complete relaxation and normality here.”
The ring was created by Queen Elizabeth II’s preferred jeweler, Cleave and Company.
2. The Gold Band is made from Precious Clogau St. David’s Gold from Bontddu, North Wales – a Tradition for Royal Wedding Rings since 1923
For generations, wedding bands for royal brides have been made with precious Clogau St David’s gold from Bontddu, North Wales, according to The Telegraph.
The Queen Mother began the tradition of Welsh gold royal wedding rings after the precious metal was used to make her wedding band when she married in 1923. After that, just one nugget of gold was used to make her wedding ring, the Queen’s in 1947, Princess Margaret’s in 1960, the Princess Royal’s in 1973 and that of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1981.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding ring – a plain, slim gold band – was made by royal warrant holders Wartski and fashioned from a piece of Welsh gold given to William by his grandmother the Queen as a gift to mark his 2011 wedding.
There is now only approximately one gram of the original nugget left, according to the Telegraph. The 21-carat Welsh gold also contains a higher percentage of pure gold than standard 18-carat gold and has a richer, warmer color. Because of the higher percentage of gold over alloy, it has a tendency to be slightly softer than 18-carat gold.
According to The Telegraph, the Welsh mines where it was found are now exhausted so it’s also significantly more expensive than other types of gold, costing up to five times as much.
3. Keeping with Tradition, Prince Harry May or May Not Wear his Wedding Band After the Wedding Ceremony, Following in the Footsteps of his Brother and Grandfather
Meanwhile it’s thought that Prince Harry will not wear a wedding band due to long-standing royal tradition – like many of the royal men, his brother Prince William and grandfather Prince Philip do not wear rings either. A number of married male royals in his family have chosen not to and the reason is very simple; it’s a case of personal preference.
According to Hello Magazine, Prince William does not like to were jewelry of any kind, and so chose to forgo wearing a ring following his nuptials to Kate Middleton in 2011. William announced his decision shortly before his Westminster Abbey wedding ceremony, with a statement from St James’ Palace confirming the news.
“It was something the couple discussed but Prince William isn’t one for jewelry – he doesn’t even wear a signet ring – and decided he didn’t want to. It really is just down to personal preference. Catherine will wear a ring fashioned from a lump of Welsh gold owned by the Royal Family that has been smelted down.”
Prince Philip has also never worn a wedding ring,even after being married to the Queen for 70 years. However, William’s father Prince Charles does wear one, next to a signet ring on the little finger of his left hand, according to Hello Magazine.
Although it seems to be the norm for royal men to forgo wearing a wedding band, there is speculation that Harry may choose to wear a wedding ring as a symbol of his love for his wife. According to Hello Magazine, since meeting his soulmate, the romantic Prince has continued to wear a beaded blue, white and black “love bracelet” that he is believed to have bought with Markle or received from her; Markle also has a matching bracelet.
4. Markle’s Engagement Ring is Estimated to be Worth Between $500K to $1 Million
Markle’s ring is not only beautiful and unique, but it’s also incredibly valuable. According to Town and Country Magazine, “Ms. Markle’s stunning ring appears to be a 3 carat cushion cut diamond with two side diamonds flanking the center stone at approximately 0.5 ct to 0.75 ct each,” says Andrew Brown, President of WP Diamonds. “We would estimate the retail to be upwards of $50,000—but with royal provenance, a ring like this could sell from anywhere between $500,000 and $1 million.”
However, because of the rarity of the Welsh gold and the diamonds from Princess Diana’s personal collection flanking the center stone, experts are saying that the ring could be considered priceless.
“There is no way for anyone to put a value on the whole ring,” Michael Fried, the CEO of Diamond Pro, a company that helps find quality and affordable diamonds, said in an email to Time. “Having diamonds form the royal collection that Princess Diana wore makes the ring priceless.”
Experts say the ring includes diamonds that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on its quality.
“A three-carat diamond like that should cost around $200,000, through the diamond qualities us non-Royal folk usually go with would allow us to get a similar sized diamond for about $80,000,” Fried said, according to Time.
Kathryn Money, the vice president of strategy and merchandising at Brilliant Earth, an ethically sourced jewelry company, estimated the ring has 6.5 carats in total, with the center diamond at roughly 5 carats. “This ring is truly priceless with unmatched cultural significance,” she said in an email to Time.
5. Markle was So Excited when Prince Harry Proposed that she Barely let him Finish Asking the Question
On November 27, 2017, the palace announced that Prince Harry had asked for Markle’s hand in marriage.
“His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle became engaged in London earlier this month. Prince Harry has informed Her Majesty The Queen and other close members of his family. Prince Harry has also sought and received the blessing of Ms. Markle’s parents. The couple will live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace,” Clarence House said in a statement.
Prince Harry said he fell in love “so incredibly quickly” with Markle that he knew the two were meant to spend their lives together, the royal heir revealed during the couple’s first interview after the news of their engagement broke.
“(It) was sort of confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned,” Harry said in a BBC interview with Markle. “Everything was just perfect. It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life.”
Markle said Harry proposed during a cozy night in at his Kensington Palace apartment, where the two were roasting a chicken.
“It was just an amazing surprise. It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee,” said Markle, who accepted so quickly Harry almost couldn’t finish asking.
“As a matter of fact, I could barely let you finish proposing. I said, ‘Can I say yes now?’” she recalled.
“It was a really nice moment. It was just the two of us,” Harry added.
According to Today, Harry and Markle met in early July 2016 on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. The prince had never heard of Markle and Markle knew little about the royal family, but after a couple of dates in London the two were inseparable.
Check out all of Heavy’s coverage of the royal wedding.