Lady Elizabeth Bowes – Lyon’s Engagement Ring


Bertie first proposed to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1921 and was rejected because, it is said, Elizabeth was concerned about how becoming a member of the Royal family would affect her life. Elizabeth agreed to marry Bertie on January 14, 1923, although she still struggled with the idea of becoming a Royal.

On Saturday 20 January 1923 the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette and the Western Daily Press reported: “At the Duke’s request a selection of sapphire rings was sent to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, and when the jeweller called the following afternoon he was received by the betrothed pair and informed that they had mutually approved and selected a ring set with three stones – a sapphire from Kashmir of great beauty, with diamonds at the sides. The sapphire is considerably larger than the diamonds, and a jeweller, with a long experience to draw upon, declared he had never seen a more beautiful blue. The ring did not fit Lady Elizabeth’s slender finger, and the jeweller, finding that to reduce its size would mar the effect of the setting, obtained permission to reset the stones. The ring was delivered yesterday to the Duke, who expressed himself highly satisfied with it. His delight was shared by Lady Elizabeth when her fiancee placed the ring upon her finger yesterday afternoon. The three stones are in light platinum and when the ring is in wear practically only the three gems are visible, the rich blue of the sapphire predominating, and the lustre of the flanking brilliants emphasising the effect of the principal stone.”

The Western Morning News manages to be more specific about the jeweller. On Saturday 20 January 1923 they reported: “Last Tuesday the Duke asked Mr Bert, jeweller of Vigo Street, London, to send to him at Buckingham Palace a selection of sapphire rings.” They also state: “The ring is what is sometimes called a half-hoop but among experts that term is not usually applied unless the setting reaches half way round the hoop – say five stones at least…. The ring was required for presentation yesterday, and by dint of late working it was completed in time for delivery at noon, when Mr Bert personally handed it to the Duke.”

The engagement ring was eventually paired with a Welsh gold wedding band. Later in life, in the 1950s, Elizabeth stopped wearing her engagement ring and was often seen wearing a large pearl surrounded by diamonds, or simply wearing gloves.