The engagement of Máxima and Willem-Alexander was officially announced in The Hague on March 30, 2001. The couple appeared in a televised press conference with Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus, during which Maxima spoke in Dutch. The press conference gave the world the first glimpse of Maxima’s engagement ring, which features a rare orange diamond.
Willem-Alexander had turned to Steltman, a Dutch jewelry firm, to make the special ring. The centerpiece of the white gold ring is an unusual oval-cut orange diamond, which is flanked by a pair of emerald-cut white diamonds. Two rows of pave-set diamonds hug the central portion of the ring.
While many royals wear their engagement ring exclusively on one hand (usually the left), Maxima has been photographed wearing her ring on both her left and right hands. This may be because of the blended traditions that Maxima and Willem-Alexander have brought to their family. In the Netherlands, Catholic people often wear their rings on their left hands, while Protestants often wear the rings on their right hands. Willem-Alexander is Protestant, while Maxima was raised in the Catholic Church. Above, Maxima wears her engagement and wedding rings together on her left hand.
The center stone of the ring is something of a marvel. Orange diamonds are among the rarest in the world. The choice of the color was deliberate: it references the House of Orange-Nassau, which is the name of the Dutch royal dynasty. The title bestowed on the heir to the Dutch throne is Prince (or Princess) of Orange, and Willem-Alexander was Prince of Orange at the time of their engagement and wedding. The name of the royal house is a reference to a place (the town of Orange, which is in Avignon in the south of France), not the fruit or the color, but the family understandably later adopted the color orange as one of their symbols. Maxima wears lots of clothing and jewelry in the color orange, but this ring is perhaps one of the most special and valuable of all the orange pieces that she owns.