How halo engagement rings became a design classic

If you haven’t binge-watched the latest season of ‘The Crown’ yet, you’ll have missed the fleeting glimpse of the moment Lady Diana chose her engagement ring. Presented with a whole tray of different rings to choose from, including heirlooms of The Queen, she selected a whopping sapphire framed by a halo of white diamonds, a new design by the House of Garrard, Crown Jeweller of the UK at the time. Now worn by Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, today Diana’s halo engagement ring is considered one of the most iconic engagement rings in history, thanks to fashion’s enduring fascination with all things Diana and the absolute classicism of the design.

In the past Diana has been quoted as saying she chose the halo style ring because it reminded her of her mother’s engagement ring, which gives us a good idea of how timeless the design already was. In fact, halo engagement rings had been around for centuries, it just took one very famous princess-to-be to cement its star status.

The concept of encircling a centre stone with diamonds to form a halo of brilliance was invented in the Georgian period (1714-1837). While halo rings from this era bore only a passing resemblance to Diana’s, the Georgians loved the extravagance of the design, which made a ring look more impressive on the finger and also drew the attention to the centre stone. In these years of growing prosperity, a halo ring was an opportunity to flaunt your wealth and status.

 

In the subsequent Victorian era, halo engagement ring designs became softer and more romantic, often resembling a flower, with the diamonds mimicking the petals. It wasn’t until the 1920s that the halo ring as we know it today was born. The Art Deco years were all about bold colour contrasts, and the combination of a coloured stone surrounded by diamonds proved an irresistible pairing. Designers experimented with the concept, exploring the more graphic gemstone cuts, surrounded by angular halos – like our magnificent Daisy ring, which is set with an exquisite emerald cut sapphire – and flipping the stones around, with a central diamond encircled by a halo of coloured stones – sapphires, rubies or emeralds – in what is today known as an Art Deco target ring.

The halo style endured through the subsequent decades, but it wasn’t until that magical moment that Diana slipped the Garrard sapphire ring on her finger for that engagement portrait of her and Charles that the halo engagement ring achieved legendary status. With stylish vintage vibes and just the right amount of glamour, a halo engagement ring is a true design classic.

Our mission? To hunt out vintage engagement rings below £2,000 

Claire Roberts, co-founder of The Vintage Ring Company