Jackie Kennedy Onassis is one of the most well known women in modern history. While most admirers remember her for her time as First Lady, many others were mesmerized by her fresh fashion sense. Whether she was sporting a pink pillbox suit or a chic black-and-white combo, Jackie O. inspired an entire generation with her mod and eclectic style. Besides her clothing, the former first lady also dazzled us with an extensive collection of unique and iconic jewelry, including two of the most expensive engagement rings in history.
Becoming Jackie Kennedy
When John F. Kennedy proposed to a blushing Jackie Bouvier, he did so with a jewel truly unlike any other. The future president knew his bride-to-be had a particular love for emeralds, and his choice in ring did not disappoint.
Vintage art deco in style and worth over one million dollars in 1953, the iconic engagement ring featured a 2.88-carat diamond alongside a 2.84-carat emerald. Both gems are surrounded by clusters of tapered baguette diamonds. As if this spectacle weren’t scintillating enough to behold, an extra 2.12 carats of round and marquise cut diamonds were added to the ring in 1963.
This brought Jackie O’s engagement ring up to a total of 8 carats. Today, it is still considered one of the most iconic pieces of jewelry of all time.
The Lesotho III
What do you give the woman who has owned it all? Greek shipping mogul Aristotle Onassis answered that question in 1968, when he proposed to Jackie with the 40.42-carat marquise-cut diamond known as the Lesotho III. It is one of only 18 pieces cut from the staggering 601-carat rough Lesotho Diamond sourced from South Africa. The VS2 L-color gem was so precious that the former first lady only wore it twice before locking it away in a New York City vault. The Lesotho III ultimately sold at her estate auction for $2.59 million.
Expanding Her Collection
Not only has Jackie Kennedy Onassis owned two of the most expensive engagement rings in history, but also an equally impressive collection of fine jewelry. In fact, the former first lady was well known in the jewelry world. Many of the pieces she accumulated through the years went on to sell for prices fit for royalty at her estate sale in April 1996:
- A 47-carat Kunzite gemstone haloed by 20 round-cut diamonds, which was a gift from President Kennedy, sold for $431,250
- Two Cabochon diamond and ruby ear clips, wedding gifts from Aristotle Onassis, sold for $360,000
- A 17.68-carat ruby and diamond ring, sold for $288,500
- A Cabochon ruby necklace, sold for $247,500
- A pear-shaped diamond ring, sold for $156,500
- A Cabochon garnet flower brooch, sold for $145,000
- Two simulated pearl necklaces and a pair of diamond and pearl ear clips, sold for $112,500
- A double-strand black stone necklace, worn by Jackie when JFK announced his presidential candidacy and when she was photographed with French President Charles de Gaulle, sold for $101,5000
- A pair of simulated pearl necklaces and gilt metal ear clips, sold for $85,000
- An amethyst necklace, sold for $55,000
- A pair of 18-carat yellow and white gold ear clips, sold for $37,375
- A pair of red briolette and amethyst earrings, sold for $35,000
By the end of the auction, buyers from all over the world had spent more than $34 million to claim treasures from Camelot.
A Stylish and Lasting Influence
Whether she was stealing our hearts with her impeccable fashion sense or dazzling us with her array of precious gems, Jackie Kennedy Onassis remains one of the most influential style icons in modern history. Although it may be too late to buy Jackie O’s engagement ring, you can still channel the former first lady’s style with modern designs. Emerald-and-diamond replicas continue to sell today, with gemstone engagement rings remaining popular choices and everlasting tributes to Jackie O, a true American gem.