This month marks 20 years since the loss of one of the world’s most beloved muses,
Crowned by the nation as the People’s Princess, Diana enchanted people around the globe with her down-to-earth nature and innate ability to connect with others.
But one of her most memorable traits was her sartorial skill. Wearing everything from ’80s tartan power suits to sweet pie-crust collars and even overalls, Diana was certainly not afraid to break Buckingham Palace’s fashion protocol.
Princess of Wales would even shun royal accessories when she knew she’d be greeting children. After all, she famously argued, “You can’t hug a child in a hat.”
And she approached her jewelry collection with the same free spirit as she did her inimitable wardrobe. From her sapphire engagement ring to the Spencer family
tiara she famously donned at her nuptials, the contents of Princess Diana’s jewelry box are things to behold.
Every single piece in her collection bears memories from key milestones in her life — including the necklace engraved with the name William following the birth of her first son, the “Swan Lake” pearl necklace she donned for one of the final public engagements before her death, and, most famously, the sapphire engagement ring that Prince William would eventually propose to Kate Middleton with in October 2010.
And despite the fact many of her treasures have since been sold at auction, some will argue that her royal gems are priceless.
In memory of the late Princess of Wales, take a look back at her most unforgettable gems.
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Princess Diana was given a gold bracelet by Prince Charles, and on every anniversary during their first 10 years of marriage, the royal would give his wife a new charm to add to the piece. Here, Princess Diana is pictured with Prince William and Prince Charles in New Zealand. (Photo: PA)
In 1982, Princess Diana posed for a Christmas portrait with her son, Prince William. Upon closer inspection, it seems the royal is not wearing her engagement ring but a sapphire cabochon ring. It is widely speculated that she swapped her jewelry so she wouldn’t risk scratching her newborn. (Photo: PA)
Princess Diana received her first piece of jewelry on her 18th birthday — a pearl choker with turquoise stones at the center. In 1984, decided to have the gems exchanged for pearls so that she would never have to worry about showing the clasp at the back. Here, the princess is pictured wearing the necklace on her honeymoon. (Photo: PA)
When we think of Princess Diana’s jewelry collection, we often think of her engagement ring. But what about her wedding band? Back in 1921, a gold ring was crafted from Clogau gold, leaving enough left over to create wedding rings for Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana. It was easy to miss Princess Diana’s wedding band, however, because of her eye-catching engagement ring. Welsh gold became popular with the nation following the marriage of the queen mother. (Photo: PA)
Princess Diana wore incredibly rare earrings to a charity dinner in Versailles back in 1994, when she opted for a pair boasting South Sea pearls for the prestigious occasion. The pearls could even be removed and transformed into sparkly studs. She wore this style in 1997 for a performance of “Swan Lake.” (Photo: PA)
Princess Diana is pictured here wearing a pearl choker with a cold-shoulder dress by Bellville Sassoon. The royal chose the outfit for a gala at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1981. The following day, it was announced that the princess was expecting her first child. (Photo: PA)
Princess Diana donned a three-strand pearl necklace for a prestigious banquet in 1982. She borrowed the accessory from the queen before her majesty even had a chance to wear it. (Photo: PA)
Princess Diana reportedly purchased a pair of faux pearl earrings while on a trip in New York. Diana is believed to have bought the earrings from the shop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in February 1989 for a pittance — about $67. Diana is pictured here wearing the faux jewelry to the queen mother’s 90th birthday celebrations. The earrings are still available for purchase at the museum’s shop. (Photo: PA)
The queen mother reportedly gave Princess Diana an emerald necklace as a wedding gift when she married Prince Charles in 1981. And the piece of jewelery is steeped in history, as it originally belonged to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. However, Camilla Parker-Bowles was spotted wearing the necklace as a brooch in October 2006 for a premiere of Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys,” which caused controversy. (Photo: PA)
Princess Diana was given a sapphire jewelry set from the Crown Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia as a wedding gift. The Princess of Wales demonstrated her sartorial flair by having the watch and ring transformed into a choker, which she sometimes wore as a headpiece. (Photo: PA)
Back in October 1996, Princess Diana attended a benefit dinner in Australia in a one-shouldered Versace dress. She accessorised her look with a five-strand pearl bracelet adorned with an aquamarine jewel. The princess also donned an emerald ring that she had commissioned by Asprey in 1997. (Photo: PA)
Princess Diana received the highest honor a female member of the royal family can be given back in the early 1980s. She wore the brooch for prestigious royal events. (Photo: PA)
Princess Diana is pictured wearing the earrings and bracelet from the Sapphire Suite. However, at a gala dinner in Washington in 1996, Diana donned the set with another bracelet that was rumored to be a gift from Dodi Al Fayed. (Photo: PA)
The Spencer tiara is a family heirloom. The cherished possession was originally given to Princess Diana’s grandmother, Lady Cynthia Hamilton, as a wedding gift back in 1919. In the ’30s, the headpiece was adorned with tulip-shaped diamonds. The headpiece was worn by Diana’s sisters on their wedding days, and by Victoria Lockwood, the first wife of Diana’s brother, Charles. Of course, Diana decided to wear the family tiara on her wedding day too, despite being offered the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara by Queen Elizabeth. Here, Princess Diana is pictured wearing the tiara at a state reception in Brisbane, Australia, in April 1983.
Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana Spencer on Feb. 3, 1981, with a now-famous ring with 14 solitaire diamonds surrounded by a 12-carat oval sapphire, set in 18-karat white gold. At the time, the ring reportedly cost around $36,800. Following the tragic death of Diana in 1997, her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, chose to keep some of her most cherished possessions, including her engagement ring and a Cartier watch. Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with his late mother’s engagement ring on Oct. 20, 2010. (Photo: PA)
It’s hardly surprising that many sartorial similarities are seen in the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Diana. Kate Middleton often seeks inspiration from her late mother-in-law when dressing for royal occasions. For example, Kate has often been spotted wearing what is said to have been one of Diana’s most treasured tiaras, the “Cambridge Lover’s Knot.” The 19-tiered diamond tiara was given to Diana by Queen Elizabeth as a wedding gift in 1981. Princess Diana donned the tiara, designed by royal jewelers Garrard for Queen Mary in 1914, for an occasion in New Zealand back in April 1983. (Photo: PA)
A sapphire brooch was given to the queen mother as a wedding gift, and Princess Diana was frequently photographed wearing it around her neck, held with a string of pearls. The Princess of Wales famously donned the necklace with the “revenge dress” she wore on the very evening it was revealed to the public that Prince Charles had been unfaithful. (Photo: PA)
Sadly, Princess Diana wore one of her most famous jewelery pieces just weeks before her tragic death. In June 1997, Diana donned a necklace boasting 178 diamonds and South Sea pearls to the Royal Albert Hall for a performance of “Swan Lake.” Aptly named the “Swan Lake” necklace, the piece of jewelry went to auction this year with a price of approximately $12.1 million. (Photo: PA)