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April 28, 2022

First Lady Engagements: The Story Behind the Ring

The White House

Our nation’s first ladies have some stunning engagement rings – let’s take a look.

Jill Biden

Jill Biden engagement ring
Before she was First Lady, she was Second Lady from 2009-2017. Joe Biden met Jill on a blind date in 1975 that was set up by his brother. Joe proposed to her 5 times before she finally said yes. "Being Joe’s wife would mean a life in the spotlight that I had never wanted. I was a college student when we’d first met, and I liked living under the radar. Joe lived with constant public visibility," Dr. Biden wrote in her book Where the Light Enters
Her three-stone engagement ring features an emerald-cut diamond, approximately 2 carats, flanked by two baguette diamonds. The ring is crafted in either white gold or platinum. After dating for two years, the two tied the knot in 1977. 
Melania trump inspired engagement ring

Melania Trump

Melania Trump Official White House Portrait

First lady Melania Trump first met Donald Trump at a New York Fashion Week party in 1998. After a courtship of six years, Donald proposed to Melania on the night of the Met Gala in 2004, when he presented her with a 12-carat emerald cut diamond ring with side baguettes, set in platinum. “It was a great surprise,” Melania said of the proposal.

Melania trump inspired engagement ring

Get the look: Tapered Baguette Diamond Engagement Ring

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama Official White House Portrait

From her intelligence and poise to her activism for health and education, Michelle Obama has become one of the most beloved and respected American first ladies of recent history. They had been dating for several years when, in 1991, Barack invited Michelle to a candle-lit dinner in order, he said, to celebrate passing his bar exam.

The real reason he wanted to celebrate became apparent when the waiter arrived with a dessert tray bearing the classic round-cut solitaire engagement ring. “I was completely shocked” remembers Michelle. “Barack didn’t pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting. On that promise he’s delivered.”

yellow gold solitaire engagement ring

Get the Look: Six-Prong Knife-Edge Engagement Ring

Laura Bush

Laura Bush

Despite coming from a presidential bloodline, George and Laura’s engagement story was anything but traditional. After meeting at a friend’s backyard cookout, the pair had their first date at a miniature golf course. Their love blossomed quickly, and a simple wedding followed just three months later. While there was no engagement ring for the wedding (the couple exchanged simple gold wedding bands) Laura said, “I did get the bigger ring later.”

Three stone engagement ring

Get the look: Three-Stone Diamond Engagement Ring

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Perhaps one of the more unconventional presidential engagement stories, Bill Clinton actually proposed to Hilary on three separate occasions before she said yes. The third time was the charm for this dynamic couple when Bill asked Hillary to marry him in front of a cottage he purchased for her in Arkansas – needless to say, her answer was yes.

Hillary has worn various rings over the years, and we’ve seen her displaying emerald and ruby center stones, as well as a plaited gold wedding band. However, the ring with which Bill proposed to her is the one we find most inspiring: an emerald-cut center stone with elegant side baguettes.

Three stone engagement ring

 Get the look: Tapered Baguette Diamond Engagement Ring

Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush

 The longest-running marriage in presidential history, Barbara and George Bush, Sr. celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary in January 2016.

After dating for several years, George chose to commemorate his love for Barbara at an event that also celebrated his love for the nation – a commissioning ceremony for Navy carrier, the USS San Jacinto. Before the event started, he took a gorgeous star sapphire engagement ring out of his pocket and asked his longtime love to be his wife.

The ring was a family heirloom, handed down from George Bush, Sr.’s aunt.

sapphire engagement ring

Get the look: Clara Sapphire Engagement Ring

Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan

With a mega-watt smile and strong acting chops, Nancy Reagan, then Nancy Davis, lit up the silver screens before she first crossed paths with former president Ronald Reagan. They met was under unusual circumstances when Nancy contacted Ronald to assist her with rectifying the wrongful use of her name by a third party publisher. After 3 years of dating, while at Chasen’s, their favorite local restaurant, Nancy answered Ronald’s declaration of “Let’s get married” with a simple “Let’s”. The couple was married for 52 years.

Nancy Reagan didn’t wear an engagement ring, but her platinum diamond wedding ring was from a jeweler on Rodeo Drive.

Emerald cut diamond eternity ring

Get the look: Emerald Diamond Eternity Ring

Rosalynn Carter

 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have one of the longest presidential marriages in history. Jimmy and Rosalynn went on their first date in 1945. Sealing a life-changing courtship, Jimmy proposed to Rosalynn in 1946 when she visited him at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Get the look: Pave Diamond Cluster Ring

Betty Ford

Betty Ford

Betty Ford was a fiery spirit known for her dedication to women's rights, substance abuse activism and overall genuine candor and charisma. It's no surprise that this presidential couple's relationship began as unconventionally as their personalities. 

This former first lady met Gerald Ford at a cocktail party which eventually led to Gerald proposing to her in July of 1948. This charismatic couple's foundation was built on mutual respect, friendship, and laughter - so much so that years later, they famously joked about not remembering when Gerald proposed!

Knife edge engagement ring

Get the look: Knife Edge Engagement Ring

Pat Nixon

Pat Nixon

From their first meeting while auditioning for the play “The Dark Tower”, to Richard Nixon’s poetic love letters, this presidential couple’s courtship was one for the ages. After Pat and Richard fell in love, he proposed to her in the spring of 1940 with the Pacific Ocean as their backdrop. Her engagement ring was nestled in a small basket filled with mayflowers, and an intimate wedding ceremony was held later that year.

Get the look: Tulip Cathedral Engagement Ring

Lady Bird Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson

The engagement story of Lady Bird and Lyndon B. Johnson is as simple and heartwarming as their classic wedding bands. They had known each other just three months when Lyndon asked Lady Bird to marry him on their first date. What followed was a whirlwind romance of countless love letters and sweet encounters until their wedding day at the San Antonio St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in 1934. They exchanged simple wedding bands from Sears, Roebuck that cost $2.50.

While the wedding was planned last-minute, their powerful union stretched into a 39-year long marriage.

knife edge engagement ring

Get the look: Classic Knife-Edge Wedding Ring

Jacqueline Kennedy

Jackie Kennedy's original engagement ring


 One of the most legendary love stories in U.S. history took flight on a summer evening in 1953. Sitting across from each other at a dimly-lit Boston restaurant was Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and John F. Kennedy. As they basked in the glow of their surroundings, John pulled out the velvet box that held his future wife’s diamond and emerald engagement ring. As he asked her to marry him and the restaurant broke out in applause, they sealed what would become one of the most iconic unions of all time with a kiss.

Jacqueline’s vintage art deco ring featured both a 2.88-carat emerald-cut diamond and a 2.84-carat emerald with several tapered baguettes.

Halo emerald cut engagement ring

Get the look: Masterwork Halo Engagement Ring


Up Next: Jackie Kennedy's Engagement Ring and Jewelry Collection

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