5 Fantastic, Famous Engagement Rings Throughout History



It’s been said that the time-honored, romance-saturated tradition of a man gifting his love interest with a marriage engagement ring began where many things originated — in ancient Rome. Legend holds that the “ring finger” was special because it housed the “vena amoris” vein that runs directly to your heart.

Today, we know that all 10 of our fingers contain veins that run to our heart. We’ve learned a lot more over the years, of course, and we’ve seen some serious evolution when it comes to the preferred style of engagement ring.

We’ve also seen some seriously beautiful, breathtaking, pretty and pretty pricey engagement rings over the years. Let’s take a closer look at five fantastic, famous engagement rings over the course of history

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ Ring from John F. Kennedy

Their brilliant yet tragic time at the highest levels of American politics was known as “Camelot” — and John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis became known as simply JFK and Jackie O. Music, film, biographies and more have been devoted to just about every aspect of their star-crossed and tragedy-tinged relationship over the years. Part of that legend? The diamond engagement ring JFK presented to Jackie O (then known as Jacqueline Lee Bouvier) in 1953. The extravagant yellow gold ring from renowned jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels boasted a 2.88-carat emerald-cut diamond and a 2.84-carat emerald – all flanked by tapered baguettes. After the couple’s Sept. 12, 1953 wedding, the ring was remounted to replace the baguettes with round, marquise-cut diamonds totaling 2.12 carats. The ring is currently among the former First Lady’s possessions kept at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, and its estimated value is now north of $1.4 million.

Josephine Bonaparte’s Ring from Napoleon Bonaparte

Though short in stature, French military leader and statesman Napoleon Bonaparte didn’t do much of anything in his remarkable life that wasn’t rather…outsized. This tendency toward passionate dominance and excess certainly applied to the engagement ring he presented to his future wife Josephine (then known as Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie). Deeply in love with Josephine, Napoleon wrote her passionate letters before offering her something truly dazzling in 1796 – a “two-teardrop” engagement ring set in sapphire and diamond.

Marilyn Monroe’s Ring from Joe DiMaggio

Film star, sex symbol, poet and tragic American icon Marilyn Monroe’s life was marked by extreme highs and lows, and her tumultuous marriage to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio was no different. Every bit as iconic, dramatic and beautiful as the woman born as Norma Jean Mortenson herself, the platinum “eternity band” engagement ring DiMaggio presented her with prior to their January, 1954 marriage at San Francisco City Hall was populated with 35 baguette-cut diamonds – spaced all the way around the ring. Alas, the marriage between Monroe and DiMaggio lasted just 274 days, and Monroe was found dead at age 36 in 1992. Shortly after DiMaggio’s death in 1999, the ring (then missing one diamond) was auctioned off at Christie’s for a surprisingly modest $772,500.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Ring from Prince Philip

Already considered a Greek and Danish Prince upon his birth on the island of Corfu in 1921, the charmed Philip Mountbatten fell hard in love with the future Queen Elizabeth II when both were mere teenagers. Upon his return from World War II service with The British Navy, Philip proposed to Elizabeth — presenting her with an equally royal ring shortly before their November, 1947 marriage in Westminster Abbey. Comprised of a 3-carat round center stone flanked by 10 smaller pave diamonds, the striking ring also repurposed diamonds from a tiara that belonged to Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg. Bonus for Philip: on the morning of his wedding, he was declared Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Barn Greenwich. In 2017, the couple celebrated their 50th (platinum) wedding anniversary. As of this writing, Philip is 99 and Queen Elizabeth is 94. Clearly, their relationship is very bit as beautiful as her treasured ring.

Elizabeth Taylor’s Ring from Richard Burton

She wasn’t officially Queen Elizabeth (and her marriage history is dramatically different), but Elizabeth Taylor sure was Hollywood royalty. She famously portrayed Cleopatra on the silver screen and was once regarded as the most beautiful woman in the world, so it was only fitting that the magnetic, enigmatic actress was presented with an equally dramatic and jaw-dropping diamond engagement ring. Often referred to as the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond or the Krupp Diamond, the famous 33.19-carat, Asscher-cut diamond ring was presented (probably quite dramatically) to Taylor by her actor lover Richard Burton prior to their (first) wedding in 1964. Some estimates place the value of the ring today at as much as $9.25 million. By the way, Taylor was married eight times in her life (including twice to Burton) — so she certainly enjoyed her share of variety when it came to engagement rings. She remained fond of this ring for much of her life, and it was even showcased in an episode of The Simpsons.

What’s Not to Love About Zillion?

With advanced technology, affordable rates, a streamlined, simplified claims process and more, what’s not to love about jewelry insurance from Zillion? Chances are your engagement ring or wedding band isn’t quite on the level of any of these majestic creations — but, then again, maybe it actually is. Or maybe you’re looking to purchase some peace of mind for your diamond bracelet, gold jewelry or other valuable, valued jewelry piece. Either way, we’re here to help you.

Visit our online home now to get started with your fast, free jewelry insurance quote!


  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon

© 2020 by Zillion Insurance Services, Inc. 
3000 El Camino Real, Bldg. 4, Suite 200

Palo Alto, CA 94306