The History Behind Grace Kelly's Engagement Ring

grace kelly and prince rainier

Getty Images

If there were such a thing as the engagement ring hall of fame, Grace Kelly's legendary Cartier ring would no doubt be in it. The Oscar-winning actress known for her roles in Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, and The Country Girl embodied the essence of an icon, so it's fitting that her jewelry mirrored that timelessness and beauty. 

As the story goes, in the spring of 1955 during the Cannes Film Festival, Kelly met her soon-to-be fiancé, Prince Rainier III of Monaco. She was there to promote To Catch a Thief and when Rainier caught wind of her attendance, he arranged a photo opp at his home as a way to meet the actress (clever!). She wore a stylish floral-print dress for the meeting and the two hit it off; she's reported to have remarked that he was "a very charming man." For months afterward, Kelly and Rainier stayed in touch, exchanging letters over a period of time and developing a romantic relationship. Finally, when he visited Kelly in her hometown of Philadelphia that Christmas, he popped the question.

The newly-engaged couple held a press conference in her family's home and the actress showed off her engagement ring for the first time—but it wasn't the ring you probably think it is. A lesser-known detail of their engagement is that Rainier gave her an eternity band that was set with rubies and diamonds. The ring, designed by Cartier, was reportedly created using family heirlooms and the colors were intended as an homage to his home country's flag (red and white). 

grace kelly
Getty Images

It wasn't until Kelly was filming High Society that the larger ring entered the picture. The movie was to be the last that Kelly would star in before she retired and moved to Monaco, and when Rainier heard that the costume designer was going to source a fake ring for Kelly's character, he offered to buy her one instead as a second engagement ring. Naturally, all parties involved swiftly accepted. The 10.48-carat Cartier emerald-cut engagement ring was flanked by two baguette-cut side stones, resulting in one of the most astonishing pieces of jewelry many have ever laid eyes on. Glimpses of the ring, alone, are worth watching the film for.  

grace kelly
Getty Images

Kelly's relationship with Cartier is among the most high-profile of the historic jewelry brand. Film director Alfred Hitchcock, who had his own storied relationship with jewelry, introduced the actress to the house of Cartier, and from that point on she was a devout fan. In fact, there is an entire room in Cartier's mansion in New York City that is dedicated to the style icon. 

Kelly and Rainier enjoyed a 26-year marriage and had three children together (Stephanie, Caroline, and Albert II). The actress had a stroke that resulted in a car accident in 1982, which led to her untimely death at the age of 52. Her memory lives on through her films, children, and iconic engagement rings—both of which remain in the House of Grimaldi.

Ahead, shop 11 engagement rings that nod to Grace Kelly’s Cartier masterpiece.

01 of 11

Cartier Destinee Solitaire


Courtesy of Cartier

The breathtaking platinum band on this ring is enriched with a halo of diamonds. The center stone, available from 2 to 5.99 carats is an emerald cut, just like Kelly’s.

SHOP NOW: Cartier, Price Upon Request

02 of 11

Ashley Zhang Grace Emerald Engagement Ring


Courtesy of Ashley Zhang

It’s no coincidence the name of this ring bears the same as Kelly’s; the jewelry designer created this stunning piece inspired by Grace Kelly’s iconic ring. The center stone is 2 carats and is flanked by two baguette diamonds.

SHOP NOW: Ashley Zhang, $23,700

03 of 11

Grace Lee Emerald-Cut Triple Diamond Ring


Courtesy of Grace Lee

If you’re looking for a ring that feels reminiscent of Kelly’s but with a slightly modern twist, the gold band on this emerald-cut ring plus the two small trapezoid diamonds on each side all come together for a beautiful choice. 

SHOP NOW: Grace Lee, $10,380

04 of 11

Rosey West Emerald Sapphire Cluster Ring


Courtesy of No. 3

White sapphires shimmer beside two baguettes and an emerald-cut center. A fresh take on an iconic silhouette, complete with a gold band.

SHOP NOW: No. 3, $3,275

05 of 11

Anna Sheffield Hazeline Solitaire Ring


Courtesy of Anna Sheffield

If you like the look of an emerald cut but want to leave out the baguette side stones, this solitaire silhouette is perfect. The band of tiny diamonds offers extra shimmer.

SHOP NOW: Anna Sheffield, $16,200

06 of 11

Porter Gulch Josie Ring


Courtesy of Porter Gulch

This vintage-inspired setting complements the center stones wow factor. Featuring two slim baguettes and a pair of princess diamonds, this emerald-cut ring is romantic in every sense of the word.

SHOP NOW: Porter Gulch, $7,100

07 of 11

Natalie Marie Signature Solitaire Diamond Ring


Courtesy of Natalie Marie

This elegant emerald-cut ring featuring a 0.76ct white diamond punctuates the beauty of the center stone with a simple, solitaire design. A classic piece you’ll love for a lifetime.

SHOP NOW: Natalie Marie, $6,165

08 of 11

Marisa Perry by Douglas Elliott Emerald Cut Engagement Ring


Courtesy of Marisa Perry

This breathtaking 5.05ct emerald-cut ring is flanked by tapered baguettes and is a beautiful homage to Kelly’s signature piece. 

SHOP NOW: Marisa Perry, Price Upon Request

09 of 11

1stdibs Emerald Cut Diamond and Tapered Baguette Ring


Courtesy of 1stdibs

Coming in at 6 carats, this striking engagement ring also offers baguette side stones for a piece that’s reminiscent of the Princess of Monaco. It doesn’t get much more sparkly than this.

SHOP NOW: 1stdibs, $195,000

10 of 11

Blue Nile Tapered Baguette Diamond Engagement Ring


Courtesy of Blue Nile

A classic design with customizable options—a great start to the perfect ring.

SHOP NOW: Blue Nile, $1,820

11 of 11

James Allen Emerald-Cut Side Stones Engagement Ring


Courtesy of James Allen

This 3.01 ct emerald-cut engagement ring glistens beside two matching side stones. Grace Kelly aficionados, you’ve found your dream ring.

SHOP NOW: James Allen, $32,380

Related Stories