Given her status as a style icon, it’s no surprise that Jackie Kennedy’s dazzling engagement ring has provided inspiration for countless brides over the years. The toi et moi design from French jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels comprised a 2.88-carat diamond and a 2.84-carat emerald, both emerald-cut, on a band of baguette-cut emeralds and diamonds.
Toi et moi—which translates as “you and me” and features two gemstones nestled side by side—has enjoyed a surge in popularity of late, with the likes of Ariana Grande, Kylie Jenner, and Megan Fox all sporting the romantic design. But the style actually dates back centuries, with Napoleon Bonaparte proposing to Josephine de Beauharnais with one in 1796.
Rather unusually, Jackie wasn’t photographed wearing a ring when the couple’s engagement was first announced in 1953. According to writer Jay Mulvaney, she told reporters at the time: “I haven’t one yet. Jack and I have looked at dozens of them. Some I didn’t like and others weren’t the right type.”
In the end, it was actually her future father-in-law, Joseph Kennedy, who picked out the ring from Van Cleef & Arpels’s Fifth Avenue store in New York. Vanity Fair’s Edward Klein described how jeweller Louis Arpels’s wife Hélène, who knew Jackie, helped the former ambassador to the UK pick the now-famous engagement ring.
Not afraid to put her own stamp on the design, the First Lady actually redesigned the piece nearly a decade after their wedding, replacing the baguettes with flashier marquise-cut diamonds that tapered to round-cut diamonds on the side. “The new ring made a statement and marked Jackie’s growing self-confidence personally, and in her family’s role on the world stage,” British Vogue’s jewellery director Rachel Garrahan says of the upgraded design.
Of course, the toi et moi ring wasn’t the only influential piece that belonged to Jackie. On her later engagement to Aristotle Onassis, the shipping magnate gifted her an enormous 40-carat Lesotho III diamond ring from Harry Winston, which sold at auction for $2.6 million in 1996. Meanwhile, it was Kennedy’s so-called “swimming ring” that inspired daughter-in-law Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s diamond and sapphire engagement band.