Royal Wedding Rings: The History Behind the Rare Gold Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Could Use (Exclusive)
By Rachel McRady
Now that the world has seen Meghan Markle’s stunning diamond engagement ring, designed by Prince Harry himself, the next piece of jewelry on everyone’s minds is the 36-year-old former Suits star’s upcoming wedding band.
But will Markle and Prince Harry keep with the royal family’s tradition? The Windsor family has used Clogau gold from the Clogau St. David’s Mine in Wales since the early 1900s. The gold has been present in the wedding rings of the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles, the late Princess Diana, Camilla Parker Bowles, and Kate Middleton.
“I anticipate that it was initially used by the royal family because the mine itself, the Clogau St. David’s Mine, was the most productive mine in the whole of the country and it still remains in the Guinness Book of World Records for that reason,” Clogau Managing Director Ben Roberts tells ET. “And, of course, the royals were looking for any gold that they could use from the country, so it would have been a natural selection.”
The mine has since been declared “exhausted,” meaning it’s difficult to mine gold from there. This makes this unique Welsh gold incredibly rare and expensive.
“We’ve generally been paying anywhere between six to 10 times the value of gold, so you could see that there’s an obvious premium there,” Roberts explains. “But recently an auction up here in North Wales for two ounces of Welsh gold went for 30 times its gold value. So if you’re paying that for normal gold, say, from South Africa or Russia or recycled gold for example, you’d be paying approximately £2,000 but this went for close to £40,000, just in its raw form and in small nuggets.”
The royal family has a reserve of Clogau gold and it is unknown how much they have left. The Welsh gold has a pink tint to it and most of the living members of the immediate royal family have used it in their wedding bands with one exception.
“It was always in the husband and wives’ rings. William was the first to break with that tradition going just for the wife,” he says of the Duke of Cambridge. “He doesn’t wear one himself."
So if Meghan and Harry decide to go with the Clogau gold, what will their bands look like?
“[The royals] tend to go for a very deep 18 carat look, usually very plain. So it’s usually very gold and very plain,” Roberts explains.
And similar bands are available to the public as Clogau has their own “Windsor” line of wedding bands. They range in price from £360 to £2,200, which is about $480 to around $3,000.
As for Markle’s engagement ring, the one-of-a-kind piece features two diamonds from Princess Diana’s personal collection in addition to a central diamond from Botswana.
And while the Clogau rings are a tradition in the Windsor family, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle might already be breaking from tradition with their wedding cake. The former royal chef, Darren McGrady, told ET, "This could be the very first time where they break with tradition and don't have a traditional fruitcake."
Watch the clip below to see how the couple is preparing for the big day!