Garrard’s long connection with the British royal family has seen stones and styles gain meaning and resonance, as jewellery passes down through generations. Nowhere is this more evident than in pieces given as expressions of love. One ring in particular has a story with so many aspects as to rival the facets of its central sapphire.
In October 2010, HRH Prince William gave Catherine Middleton a sapphire and diamond ring to mark their engagement. “It’s a beautiful ring,” says Claire Scott, Head of Design at Garrard. “The proportions and the size of the diamonds work very well together.” At its centre is a Ceylon sapphire of singular beauty, surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds.
The design can be traced back to 1840 and the making of a brooch for another royal wedding, as Claire explains. “Prince Albert commissioned a gorgeous blue sapphire and white diamond cluster brooch before his marriage to Queen Victoria, and presented it to her as a wedding gift. The Queen wore it on her dress on the day, as her ‘something blue’.” Viewers of the ITV drama Victoria were treated to a replica of the brooch, worn by actress Jenna Coleman in her role as the Queen. The original also remains a favourite with HM Queen Elizabeth II, who has had it pinned to her coat or dress on many an official occasion.
Although Garrard had its first royal patron in Frederick, Prince of Wales from 1735, the relationship with the family was formalised in Queen Victoria’s reign with its appointment as Crown Jeweller in 1843. Commissions grew to include many of the tiaras and suites of jewellery still in the Queen’s Collection, and it is from this time the House began to create patterns that have since become signatures, like the cluster setting. “All of the inspiration for our pieces is rooted in our heritage,” says Claire. “A moment in time, or a particular royal piece we have created for example.”
On the hand of Princess Diana, the Garrard sapphire and diamond cluster ring offered by the Prince of Wales upon their engagement in 1981 attracted attention the world over. Now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge it continues to weave its spell. It is perhaps because of these associations, and the impact of the design, that cluster engagement rings have grown in popularity in recent years.
“For Garrard, sapphires have been particularly prominent throughout our history and the cluster design has become synonymous with the House,” says Claire. “We have created many bespoke cluster designs for the royal family and other clients. Today we have a cluster collection in our bridal range, fittingly named 1735, which reflects this rich heritage.” It is complemented by a range of other engagement ring designs featuring emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, available in existing collections or as a bespoke commission.
Just as jewellery has passed down through the royal family, so other clients choose to revisit precious heirlooms. Bespoke engagement rings often feature inherited gemstones. “It may be a brooch or ring that was made by Garrard and is no longer worn but our client wants to keep somehow. It feels like history coming full circle,” says Claire.
“Jewellery is the perfect way to create a memory that lasts,” adds Creative Director Sara Prentice. “When clients commission or purchase a House of Garrard design, they are becoming part of a wonderful history, one that includes many love stories both famous and unknown.”
When clients commission or purchase a House of Garrard design, they are becoming part of a wonderful history. Sara Prentice Creative Director