Stephen Barnard, former jeweller to the royals, has given his idea of what the next royal engagement ring will look like.
The jeweller spent years working on rings, necklaces, and bracelets worn by the rich an famous, including the royal family.
His most recognisable creation is Princess Diana’s incredible ‘swan lake’ necklace – so named after Diana wore it to a performance of the famous ballet at the Royal Albert Hall, just two months before her death in 1997.
He also worked on the famous Taylor-Burton Diamond – bought by Richard Burton in a heated auction with Cartier. The iconic jewel was later worn by Elizabeth Taylor to the Academy Awards, as well as to Princess Grace of Monaco’s 40th birthday.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Stephen said he believes his long history of working with the stars gives him an inside advantage in speculating about the ring Prince Harry could give girlfriend Meghan Markle, if he proposes.
“I think if Harry were to propose it would be a ring with a large diamond, with a few little diamonds set around it,” said Stephen.
“I think it will be stylish, I think it will be a large cut diamond, with maybe a dozen or so pave stones, lots of little diamonds all set together, around it.
“I don’t think he will choose a sapphire like his mother’s,” the jeweller said. “Precious stones are dated. She is young, vivacious, American and stylish. I don’t think they will be very traditional. I think they will be more modern.
“I think it will be platinum, with maybe a few eternity rings to go with it.”
Stephen now works as the head jeweller for 77 Diamonds in Mayfair, counting celebrities among his clients. He claims that platinum has become the precious metal of choice for many, due to it’s durability, and that diamonds have largely replaced other gems.
In his former work for the House of Gerrard he frequently produced pieces for royals – although he rarely knew who would end up wearing them. His focus at 77 Diamonds is to make his jewellery more accessible.
“When I was working at Gerrard’s you never knew who you were making things for,” he said. “That was kept private for the buyers and we never spoke about it. We were just given paintings with the designs on.
“The most memorable piece I made was for Princess Diana. I didn’t know who I was making the necklace for at the time, I only found out at a later date after she had died that it was for Diana. It’s something that you hold with you all your life.
“It’s very exhilarating to make something like that.”
The fashions in jewellery have changed drastically over his decades in the industry, moving from ornate pieces involving dramatic gemstones, to simpler work in platinum and diamonds.
“I used to make some big pieces for the wealthy,” he said. “This still happens, but times have changed. Previously people would pay for someone to sit for two or three days making a piece.
“I now make things that are affordable, making diamonds and jewellery more accessible for everyone. And I would say that the quality is just as good.”
Meghan has been subjected to an enormous amount of scrutiny since she started dating Harry, and speculation that the pair will soon become engaged is rife.
Whether the pair go for a modern diamond, or a classic sapphire, it seems certain the ring will be impressive.