Around June 24, 2019, the world woke up to the fact that Meghan Markle had been wearing a redesigned engagement ring for weeks. Why it took so long for people to realize the famous jewel had been changed is kind of shocking, but rings have been overlooked before by fans and those of us professionally reviewing jewelry. Once the media realized there was a new ring they spouted all kinds of opinions on the subject. More on that in a moment, first let’s walk it back to the debut of the jewel.
No one in the media initially noticed the first time the Duchess wore the new ring at the photocall for Baby Archie on May 8 at St. George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, because, well, cute baby.
The new engagement ring was overlooked again on June 8 at the Trooping the Colour ceremony BUT—and this is odd—some members of the press did notice her new slender micro pavé-set band that was stacked on the same hand and captured in clear images while she was waving at the crowds during the carriage ride to Buckingham Palace.
A guessing game of the jeweler who might have made the eternity band played out by journalists everywhere. Around June 24, literally weeks after the eternity band was noticed people began to realize the engagement ring was different. I have no idea who spotted this first.
The new jewel was as clear as day in the images, but many headlines still had a tone of disbelief, “Is Meghan Markle wearing a redesigned ring?” Others said things along the lines of, “Meghan Markle redesigns her engagement ring without anyone noticing.” No one knew who had done the redesign.
Finally on June 29 the details were revealed that Lorraine Schwartz—the jewelry designer who has created huge engagement rings for Beyoncé, Blake Lively, Kim Kardashian and so many more Hollywood women—was responsible for the delicate eternity band and gently redesigned engagement ring.
Harper’s Bazaar’s royal reporter in the US, Omid Scobie got the scoop and wrote about the push present “While creating the bespoke conflict-free diamond eternity band, Harry paid tribute by having Schwartz add birthstones for Meghan, Archie, and himself on the underside of the delicate piece.” The gems for the family would be an emerald for Archie, a green peridot stone for Meghan and a blue sapphire for Harry.
Scobie also tossed in the fact the world was waiting for near the end of the story. He wrote “While closely working with the famous New York-based jeweler, the prince also took the opportunity to have Meghan’s engagement ring which features two stones that once belonged to Princess Diana—resized and reset with a new delicate diamond band.” The original center stone from Botswana, reflecting the couple’s love of Africa, was also (of course) in the piece.
So, you would think that would the happy ending of that jewelry story, right? Well, obviously not. People are obsessed with engagement rings and Meghan. Put the two together and it’s an EPIC story that is still being chewed over.
While many in the press have remarked on how lovely and romantic the redesign and eternity band are, another faction has decided it is outrageous that the ring was revamped. It doesn’t matter that no one initially noticed the jewel, now they are making all kinds of crazy claims.
Too many stories to count, have remarked that Meghan redesigned the ring in “secret.” Let’s just dismiss that as fake news. Scobie, who obviously has an inside source with all his details on things we can’t see about the ring, said the redesign was done by Harry. Meghan quite publicly stopped wearing her engagement ring during the final months of her pregnancy when her hands must have swelled. It was reported on repeatedly and I am sure that’s when Harry began to work on the ring with Lorraine.
The concept of lavish spending also must be immediately dismissed. Lavish spending in jewelryland would mean, well, something that the press wouldn’t overlook repeatedly for weeks. Lavish spending would be something on a scale of Mirka Federer’s engagement ring. Add up the redesign and eternity band for Meghan’s ring and the total cost was probably no more than $15,000. It could have been a lot less. While it is a serious chunk of change, the couple are royalty. With that lofty detail in mind it is not an excessive amount.
Finally, enough of the outrage over the fact that the original jewel was historic and Meghan did some kind of damage to a sacred object. The main offender in this area is the editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine Ingrid Seward. Her thoughts on the subject have appeared in any number of stories. “I find it a bit odd Meghan would want to alter a ring that her husband had especially designed for her,” Seward opined. She went on to add a royal engagement ring is, “a piece of history, not a bit of jewelry to be updated when it looks old fashioned.”
I could really rail on these statements, but I am going to try to be brief. First, the history of British Crown Jewelry—like all royal collections—is about the history of redesign. So many pieces of jewelry in the collection has a stone or some part from a previous generation of jewels. To name but one, The Imperial State Crown that Queen Elizabeth wears during the opening of Parliament, has gems with a dossier of places they have been mounted and remounted before they landed in the major headgear. Undoubtedly, the piece will be, at very least, gently redesigned again when Charles becomes King.
Gems are often recycled for royal engagement rings. In other words, it’s more in the history of redesign. Similar to Harry pulling diamonds out of one of his mother’s jewels for Meghan’s engagement ring, Prince Philip used diamonds from a tiara that belonged to his mother, Princess Andrew of Greece for Queen Elizabeth’s engagement ring.
It is also worth noting, engagement rings are not official Crown Jewels. They are personal pieces. They are also not generally splashy designs. The one major exception to that rule was Princess Diana’s engagement ring that currently belongs to Kate Middleton. It was bought off-the-rack, so to speak. It was NOT a custom design. There are no royal gems in the jewel. The Garrard design was made around 1981 and epitomizes the style of the decade.
While I doubt a redesign has ever crossed Kate’s mind, if she ever did decide to update the piece, it would not be hurting anything too deeply historical. It would be adding a new chapter to the story, just like Harry and Meghan did with her engagement ring.