Image via theguardian.com. Photograph: Alexi Lubomirski/AFP/Getty Images
Proposing romantically on one knee (over a roast chicken dinner), he presented his glamorous fiancé, Meghan Markle, with a suitably sparkly engagement ring last month.
Harry took as semi-traditional approach to the design of the engagement ring. The main characteristic is that it is a “Trilogy”, or as the name suggests, “3 stones” sitting together. This kind of design is effortlessly timeless. And the combination of yellow gold shank and white gold claws is very dominant in vintage Victorian rings, so being a vintage design devotee, I was instantly seduced.
But the real uniqueness of Meghan’s ring is the combination of different diamond cuts. The central cushion cut diamond of around 2.50-3.00 carats sits surrounded by 2 smaller round cut diamonds. Cushion cut diamonds are relatively modern and can be found in contemporary engagement rings. But what makes this ring exceptional, romantic and incredibly moving is that both round cut diamonds on the sides of the central stone belonged to Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana.
Creating a piece of jewellery including this emotional connection is a very special approach to designing your own bespoke engagement ring. By doing so, you are bringing together something from the past with something new. And Prince Harry did just that, bringing his past and future into one very special kind of ring. I bet Meghan was totally speechless.
We’ve since learned that the ring was made by Cleave, the court jewellers based at No1 Buckingham Place. So, it seems that Meghan’s handsome prince didn’t have to venture far! And no need for the sometimes-scary basement workshops in Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery district, to get his beautiful ring made…
Jokes apart, Cleave famously creates and crafts from its London-based workshop, so it couldn’t be much more British either. The company prides itself on a passion for the most excellent standards and craftsmanship, so there can be little doubt then that this piece will be as perfect at close quarters as it is from afar.
As an ethical jeweller, the question of raw material origins would be the one I’m most interested in. I approached Cleave to find out more but unfortunately - and unsurprisingly - they were not able to divulge any specifics. So, I’m taking the liberty of making an educated guess.
I would like to believe that the gold of Meghan’s ring is Welsh gold, as Welsh gold has been used by the British Royal Family for over 100 years. Ben S. Roberts, CEO of Clogau Gold, a company famous for making jewellery that contains welsh gold, and I discussed this when the tabloids were still speculating and agreed it would make for a rather lovely royal story, but unfortunately there is no way to know this. Or perhaps old Welsh gold from the royal collection, melted down? New from old. Even better.
Prince Harry did reveal in his first interview after popping the question, that the central Diamond came from Botswana. So how ethical is that flawless diamond likely to be? What mines exist in Botswana and who owns them?
The answer is that most diamond mines in Botswana belong to the De Beers Group. The best-known ones are the Jwaneng, Orapa, Damtshaa, Letlhakane and Karowe mines. There are a few other sites, which account for much less of Botswana production Lucara Diamonds own by the Lundin group, Lerala, own by Kimberley Diamonds and Ghaghoo, owned by Gem diamonds. But it’s the De Beers Group that produces the vast majority of Botswana diamonds via a special partnership forged with the Botswana government. Each side owns 50% of the ‘Debswana’ partnership, as it’s known. The deal has been lucrative for many, making Botswana one of Africa’s biggest modern economic success stories.
Speculating with Lisa Levinson, former Country Manager Forevermark UK and Ireland, there’s a 50% chance that the royal diamond was sourced from the Jwaneng mine from the De Beers group. This mine alone produces more than half of Botswana's diamonds - that’s around 11 million carats every year.
Even assuming the diamond had been mined responsibility, before I could let myself fall head over heels with this particular engagement ring (as lovely as it is), I would want to see a certificate of origin for the central diamond. A confirmation for the use of welsh gold or another ethical alternative, like Fairtrade Gold or Fairmined Ecological Gold, would also be on my tick list.
That will never happen, of course. But given Meghan Markle’s humanitarian stance and role as UN advocate, I do like to think she might have insisted Harry on making sure the symbol of their love complies with UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
About the Author,
Arabel Lebrusan is a designer of beautiful ethical jewellery and a passionate advocate for transparency in the jewellery supply chain. Arabel Lebrusan Jewellery is an independent jewellery brand with the social mission of making the jewellery industry more ethical.