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Reach for the stars - Celeb-inspired rings

Engagement rings are intensely personal gifts which display a couple’s love for one another – but just because your love is unique doesn’t mean you can’t get a little inspiration from others when it comes down to your style of ring.

Whether you look to Hollywood red-carpet royalty or the princess brides of real European royalty, you’ll find everything from traditional stones and settings to the cutting edge of fashion, and from eye-popping style choices to rings with real stories behind them.

So here’s the Walker & Hall guide to great celebrity engagement rings:

Royal rings

  • The first Victorian engagement ring was presented by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria ahead of their wedding in 1840. The ring was designed as a snake (a symbol of eternal love) with an emerald-set head (Victoria’s birthstone) and set the trend for engagement rings to contain the wearer’s birthstone.

  • The most famous royal engagement ring of recent times is the 18-carat oval blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds first chosen by Princess Diana (Prince Charles initially proposed ahead of their 1981 wedding without a ring because he wanted her to be sure she understood the implications of marrying into the Royal Family) and then presented to Kate Middleton by Prince William during a holiday in Kenya in 2010. Prince Harry had originally inherited the ring after his mother’s death but gave it to William so it would be worn by a future queen. William carried it around Kenya for three weeks in his rucksack before popping the question.

  • Probably the most controversial royal engagement ring was given to Wallis Simpson by Edward VIII in 1936. The 19.77 carat emerald ring was engraved with the inscription “We are ours now 27 X 36” (denoting the date Oct 27, 1936) and marked the end of Edward’s reign because he was forced to abdicate the throne to prevent the American divorcee from becoming the Queen of England. They lived the rest of their lives as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

  • Three years after 28-year-old Aussie Mary Donaldson met Prince Frederik of Denmark in a Sydney pub during the Olympics, the future king proposed to her with a central emerald-cut diamond flanked by two ruby baguettes to signify the red and white colours of the Danish flag. Rubies have a royal connection with engagement rings after Prince Andrew used his own design of a Burmese ruby surrounded by 10 drop diamonds for his 1986 proposal to Sarah Ferguson – a decision which was inspired by Fergie’s flame-red hair and which sparked a huge fashion of ruby engagement rings in the UK.

  • The engagement ring which combines Hollywood glamour with European royalty is undoubtedly the one – or ones – used by Prince Rainier III of Monaco to propose to Grace Kelly in 1955, less than a year after the couple first met at the Cannes Film Festival. After originally proposing with an eternity band of diamonds and rubies, he upped his game with a 10.5 carat emerald-cut diamond flanked by two baguettes after realising that Hollywood stars were parading more flamboyant rings than his fiancée. Grace then wore this second ring in her final film role as Tracy Lord in High Society alongside Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

Hollywood glamour

  • Lady Gaga isn’t renowned for being quiet and unassuming so it’s no surprise that Taylor Kinney’s Valentine’s Day proposal this year came on the back of a 10 carat heart-shaped diamond with the inscription “T & S” (Gaga’s real name is Stefani) on the band. The total package? More than $US500,000.

  • George Clooney’s engagement to human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin was marked with a huge 7.5 carat emerald-cut diamond flanked by two tapered baguettes. But the major style focus was on the fact that Clooney had specifically chosen an ethically sourced diamond for the ring and a vintage feel to the classic platinum setting and canary colour (similar to the stone with which Seal proposed to Heidi Klum in 2005) of the main stone.

  • Recent weddings don’t come much bigger and bolder than Kim Kardashian and Kanye West – so their 15 carat engagement ring (reputed to have been worth around $2 million) fitted in perfectly. Kanye chose the stone – a perfect cushion cut, flawless, D-coloured (colourless) diamond – and designed the setting.

  • Mary-Kate Olsen’s engagement to Olivier Sarkozy (half-brother to the former French president) was revealed at last year’s Paris Fashion Week – putting more than a little pressure on the choice of ring. Their slightly left-field option of a vintage Cartier ring dating back to 1953 and featuring a 4 carat European-cut diamond surrounded by 16 sapphires and single-cut diamond “petals” was a bold fashion move – and the price tag, at $81,000, was also much lower than other celebrity stones.

  • When Olivier Martinez popped the question to Halle Berry, he created a ring which was utterly unique to mark the occasion. The 4 carat Colombian emerald and two diamonds are set in a yellow-gold, hand-forged band which was created using ancient Phoenician techniques incorporating codes and symbols only known to the couple. Compared to the bling of some celebrity rings, this is relatively understated – but no less powerful.

  • In recent years antique (or antique-style) engagement ring styles have hit the red carpets more and more from Penelope Cruz’s oval sapphire in a halo of diamonds, and Scarlett Johansson’s bold art deco style, rectangular ring featuring three bezel-set diamonds, to Milla Jovovich’s 19th century ring featuring white, yellow and pale pink diamonds in a bold three-long setting, and Kate Moss’s reproduction of a ring worn by the wife of Great Gatsby author F Scott Fitzgerald, 20s trend-setter Zelda.

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