Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon accepted a proposal from Prince Albert, Duke of York, in 1923, having previously turned him down on two occasions out of apprehension about what a royal life would mean for her. Her engagement ring from ‘Bertie’, as he was known to his family, featured a Kashmir sapphire flanked by two diamonds. But very few photos of the gem exist as the future Queen Mother rarely wore it.
The Queen Mother was often pictured wearing a pearl ring on her ring finger until she died in 2002.
The centrepiece of the ring, a huge pearl, was surrounded by a halo of glittering diamonds, and a jewellery expert said the sparkler was “very indicative” of who the Queen Mother was.
Joanna Wyganowska, Design Expert & Gemmologist at Queensmith, said: “The Queen Mother was first given a rare sapphire engagement ring with diamond detailing, but by the 1940s had chosen an alternative ring that was a little more ‘her’.
“She started to wear a really striking and unusual pearl ring with a halo of diamonds surrounding the large, round gem.
“Originally refusing to marry Prince Albert in fear of losing her freedom, the switch from a typically very regal stone, a sapphire, to an unexpected pearl is very indicative of the Queen Mother and who she was.”
The Queen Mother wore the pearl ring alongside her Welsh gold wedding band that she received after marrying the Duke of York in April 1923.
While the pearl ring was her go-to, the Queen Mother was also spotted on occasion wearing a stunning diamond ring.
Comprised of an emerald-cut diamond accompanied by additional diamond baguettes, the ring has an Art Deco theme.
The 12-carat royal blue sapphire is surrounded by diamonds set in white gold, and it is thought to be worth up to £400,000.
Other royals who own sapphire engagement rings include Princess Anne and the Queen’s granddaughter, Princess Eugenie.
Anne was given a sapphire engagement ring from her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, and a cabochon sapphire ring from her second husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.
Princess Eugenie’s sapphire ring from Jack Brooksbank was first debuted in 2018, and hers holds a rare padparadscha gem.
The stunning stone glows orange-pink, and it is surrounded by diamonds in a floral pattern.
The Queen’s cousin Princess Alexandra also wears a large cabochon sapphire engagement ring from her late husband, Sir Angus Ogilvy.