The Queen Mother stopped wearing rare engagement ring from King George VI

The Duchess of York was later pictured wearing a pearl

After reportedly turning down Prince Albert's proposal three times, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later known as the Queen Mother, agreed to marry him in January 1923 – but she didn't wear her original engagement ring for very long.

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The Duke of York, who became King George VI, gave his bride-to-be a ring made with a rare Kashmir sapphire with diamond accents. Very few photos share a look at the original rock, but sapphire rings continued to be popular among royal brides.

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Princess Diana chose a stunning sapphire and diamond design when she got engaged to Prince Charles in 1981, and the ring was later passed on to Kate Middleton when Prince William popped the question in 2010. Meanwhile, Princess Anne received two sapphire rings from Mark Phillips and Timothy Laurence.

While some royal ladies continue to rock their blue stones, the Queen Mother swapped her ring for a large pearl surrounded by diamonds later in life. The statement piece was pictured on her ring finger as early as 1946 when she posed for a photo with her daughters Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret at Royal Lodge in Windsor.

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The couple got married on 26 April 1923 at Westminster Abbey, and Elizabeth became styled as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York.


The Duke and Duchess of York got married in 1923

Elizabeth wore a 1920s style ivory wedding dress, embroidered with pearls and silver thread. She chose not to wear a tiara, opting for a floral headpiece instead, but in her official wedding portraits, she did sport the Strathmore Rose Tiara.

She complimented her original engagement ring with a Welsh gold wedding band, which is traditional among the royal ladies. 

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The Queen Mother - who was the Queen Consort after Albert's brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson in 1936 - is not the only royal who has made changes to her engagement ring. Meghan Markle was presented with a beautiful gold trilogy engagement ring when Prince Harry proposed in November 2017, featuring diamonds from Botswana and from his late mother Princess Diana's personal collection.


The Queen Mother was pictured with her pearl engagement ring in 1946

Just over 18 months later,  Meghan revealed a significant change to the ring, having replaced the yellow gold band with a delicate diamond-studded band.

Kate Middleton, meanwhile, had to have her special ring adjusted because it was a little too big. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge turned to jeweller G. Collins and Sons to resize the ring, and they did this by adding small platinum beads inside the band to reduce its diameter, instead of breaking and resoldering the band itself.

READ: Princess Diana and Prince Charles' wedding broke with 300-year royal tradition

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