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she gave stuffy heirlooms a new lease of life: Diana's sensational sapphires.

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The story behind an iconic stone, earrings that marked a new start and how she gave stuffy heirlooms a new lease of life: Diana's sensational sapphires.Of all the beautiful jewels in her possession, sapphires are the ones which will always be associated with Diana, Princess of Wales — not least because of her stunning engagement ring, which now sparkles on the hand of her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge.But Diana’s sapphire collection was far more eclectic and interesting than it is often thought. From a suite of sapphires from a wedding guest she had never met to the brooch she turned into a choker and the necklace she decided to wear on her head, each of her pieces bears a fascinating story that reveals so much about the Princess.Legend has it that the history of empires and sapphires are intertwined, none more so than the British Empire, with many a battle being fought over vaults of the precious blue stones. Indeed, sapphire-encrusted crowns, sceptres, orbs, swords and rings form a major part of the Crown Jewels even today — as well as the personal jewellery collections of many royal ladies.The regal love of the gem, said to symbolise love and purity, dates back to 1840, when Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a diamond and sapphire brooch to mark their wedding, a moment so touching the monarch wrote about it in her private diary remarking: ‘My dear Albert has such good taste.’Queen Elizabeth II inherited the brooch when she ascended the throne in 1952, adding it to a substantial sapphire stash of her own, including a showstopping suite from her father, a brooch given to her by her mother and her favourite Cartier flower spray pin, containing light blue sapphires and rubies, which she received from both her parents in 1945.Diana, meanwhile, adored the blue stones because they matched her eyes. She went from not owning a single sapphire to having more of the ostentatious stones than any other gem.Here, for the first time ever, we reveal the secrets behind her showstopping sapphires . . .

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