We first saw it 37 years ago today. Now it's one of the most famous pieces of royal jewellery, ever. The sapphire and diamond ring that sparkled on the finger of Lady Diana Spencer as her engagement to the Prince of Wales was announced on this day in 1981 has a place in regal history all of its own. It sparkled on the day Diana debuted in royal circles and it's still making headlines today.
This ring also gave us our first hint of how well Diana knew the media. As she posed shyly on the steps of Buckingham Palace, she placed her left arm across her body to hold her right elbow. A bit of a defensive moment but also a rather canny one because it put the ring on full show. And what a ring it was. A 12 carat oval Ceylon sapphire surrounded by fourteen solitaire diamonds on a band of gold. No wonder it got so much coverage all those years ago. It was big, it was bold, it was beautiful. And it broke the royal mould. Diana didn't pick a family heirloom, she chose a new design from the jewellers Garrards and pretty much as soon as it appeared in the papers all those years ago, just about everyone wanted a copy of it. Diana was a trend setter from the start.
Of course it became famous all over again in 2010 when her first son, Prince William, presented it to his fiance, Catherine Middleton, when they announced their engagement to the world. William said he wanted his mother to be a part of his special moment and as the ring sparkled on Kate's finger it took on another chapter in an already famous royal history.
Then it starred in royal portraits beamed around the world. Today it features in more globally known pictures. The way the photos are spread has changed with Kate's ring snapped on the internet while Diana's was a newspaper sensation. But almost forty years on, this famous piece of royal jewellery is still making headlines.