Celebrity Style

The Story Behind Princess Diana's 9 Most Iconic Jewelry Pieces

From her tiaras to her engagement ring.

Diana, Princess of Wales  (1961 - 1997) attends a dinner at the British Embassy in Washington, DC, November 1985. She is wearing an evening dress by Murray Arbeid and the Queen Mary tiara.  (Photo by Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
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It has been nearly 24 years since Princess Diana’s tragic death and she still remains one of the foremost style icons of the world. Lady Di was a rule breaker, a boundary pusher, and a strong-willed young woman who knew what she loved. And though some of her ready-to-wear looks remain among the most recognized in history, Princess Diana’s jewelry collection is where she really shined.

"She was never ‘Shy Di’ when it came to the big-time baubles,” says Marion Fasel, Founder and Editorial Director of The Adventurine. “She wore them in a way that was so young, fresh and modern. No one has ever matched the way she played with the jewels."

Indeed Kate Middleton approaches jewelry in a markedly different way. “Usually when Kate wears pieces on loan from the Queen, she doesn’t layer them,” says Fasel. “She doesn’t go to the Royal Ballet wearing a tiara the way Diana did. Kate seems to almost purposefully be a little lower key."

Both Middleton and Meghan Markle do wear Princess Diana’s jewelry in tribute to the late royal, however. Middleton wore Princess Di’s Lover’s Knot tiara to the Queen’s Diplomatic reception, and she often wears the pearl and diamond earrings Diana famously paired with her Revenge Dress.

Markle notably wore her late mother-in-law’s pearl and diamond bracelet to her Oprah interview. And before that, she wore Princess Diana’s aquamarine ring to her wedding reception, which symbolizes Diana’s independence from the Royal Family as one of the first pieces of jewelry she purchased post-divorce announcement.

Ahead, learn the stories behind some of Lady Di’s most iconic jewelry pieces.

1

Princess Diana’s Sapphire And Diamond Engagement Ring

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Princess Diana’s ring fell into a long trend of royals choosing colored stones for their engagements — especially sapphires. The ring now sits on the hand of Duchess Kate Middleton, having been presented to her when she got engaged to Diana’s oldest son, Prince William.

“Sapphires and pearls were Diana’s signature gems and she clearly boosted the popularity of those stones,” says Fasel. “But her engagement ring that Kate Middleton wears today was certainly the most popular and influential piece in her collection."

2

Princess Diana’s Lover's Knot Tiara

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Though tiaras were sometimes seen as antiquated, Princess Diana took a modern and youthful approach to styling the Royal jewels. “She was also quite regal and comfortable in the tiaras. She made them look modern [because] her short wispy hair added to the youthful quality she infused in the antiques. And so many of her dresses were easy breezy. They looked fresh with the antiques and crown jewels."

The Lover’s Knot Tiara, designed by Crown Jeweler Garrard, was widely considered Princess Diana’s favorite. Queen Elizabeth gave the family heirloom to her daughter-in-law as a wedding gift in 1981, and the rules surrounding it are quite specific. Instead of being gifted to Lady Diana Spencer as a commoner, it was a gift to the Princess of Wales — by title.

So when Diana and Charles got divorced and she gave up her title, she also gave up rights to the tiara. It was then returned to the palace vaults. Since then, it has been worn on many occasions by Kate Middleton. In fact, she has worn it more than any other, suggesting that it is her favorite as well.

3

Princess Diana’s Spencer Tiara

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Princess Diana’s wedding day tiara was her family’s Spencer Tiara. Today, the gold-mounted tiara boasts stylized flowers and scrolls (based off of the motif of the center brooch) that are made of silver-set diamonds. It was not only worn by Diana on her wedding day, but also by her two sisters, Lady Sarah and Jane, as well as her sister-in-law, Victoria Lockwood, on their own wedding days.

Princess Diana wore the tiara on many an occasion after her wedding day (and it traveled all over the world with her), but it never actually belonged to Lady Di. It was, in fact, on loan from her father at the time and now belongs to her brother, Charles Spencer. It had not been seen publicly since Diana’s death until 2018, when her niece, Celie McCorquodale, wore it to wed George Woodhouse.

4

Princess Diana’s Chokers Worn As Headbands

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Princess Diana loved to push boundaries when it came to jewelry. One such example of that is her choice to effortlessly wear chokers as headbands. “She styled the pieces in a way that was imaginative,” says Fasel. “She was very at ease with the jewelry."

In 1985, she wore an art deco emerald and diamond choker as a headband during a Gala Dinner in Melbourne, Australia. One year later, she again wore a choker as a headband — this time, a sapphire and diamond version — while attending a dinner hosted by Emperor Hirohito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

5

Princess Diana’s Sapphire, Diamond, and Pearl Choker

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Princess Diana’s seven-strand pearl choker boasts a large oval sapphire and diamond clasp. The clasp was originally a brooch that The Queen Mother gifted to Diana as a wedding gift.

Perhaps the most famous of outings for the bauble was in 1985 when Princess Diana wore it to visit the White House and shared a dance with John Travolta that is still talked about today.

She also picked the choker to accessorize the iconic look now known as her revenge dress, a little black dress that she sported on the night her husband confessed his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles on television.

6

Princess Diana’s Triple Strand Pearl Choker

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Lady Di was well-known for her love of pearls. One of her most iconic pearl pieces was a triple-strand choker that she was given for her 18th birthday. It featured a center round clasp that boasted a pearl cluster with eight small turquoise stones sprinkled throughout. Later on, however, Diana had it changed to be completely crafted of pearls.

It was the beginning of a larger trend that is experiencing a resurgence today. As Fasel puts it, “there is definitely a movement to the pearls today and Diana’s pearls — even the demure ones —will certainly continue to fuel that trend with women and men who have started wearing pearl necklaces."

7

Princess Diana’s Diamond And Pearl Necklace

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Though she was only seen wearing this necklace on a single occasion, Princess Diana’s diamond and pearl necklace is still one of her most iconic pieces, due largely in part to its timing. Crafted of almost 51 carats of diamonds and 5 matching South Sea pearls, this necklace was created by Crown Jeweler Garrard for Lady Di in 1997.

She wore it with her pale blue sleeveless dress to a performance of Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 3, 1997, one of her final public appearances.

It was designed along with coordinated diamond and pearl drop earrings. They are now collectively referred to as the “Swan Lake Suite.”

8

Princess Diana’s Aquamarine Ring

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Designed by Asprey, this emerald-cut aquamarine ring was a true stunner. Set in 24-carat yellow gold, the center stone (a gift from her best friend Lucia Flecha de Lima) is flanked by two small solitaire diamonds.

First spotted on Princess Diana’s finger in 1996 while in Australia, it was one of the first pieces of jewelry she added to her collection following her divorce announcement. In that way, it represents her independence.

Today, that ring sits on the finger of Meghan Markle. She was first seen wearing the ring at her wedding reception at Frogmore House and then again during her first tour as a married couple.

9

Princess Diana’s Pearl And Diamond Earrings

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Princess Diana’s pearl drop earrings were a wedding gift from Collingwood Jewellers. They are designed with a pear-drop shape and diamond setting which mimics the style of her iconic Lover’s Knot Tiara.

She wore them with her revenge dress on the evening Prince Charles confessed his affair, styling them with her sapphire and diamond clasp pearl choker.

The earrings now belong to Kate Middleton, who was first spotted wearing them at the Spanish State Banquet in 2017 and multiple times since, including the Queen’s Buckingham Palace Garden Parties in May 2019.