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DIANA HAD HIS RING; Dodi's last token of love found in wreck.

Princess Diana died with a fabulous ring which Dodi Fayed had just given her.

It was found among her possessions in their wrecked Mercedes. Millionaire Dodi had chosen the gem - believed to be made up of diamonds and of staggering value - only hours before the tragedy.

He had carefully planned the final stages in his wooing of Diana.

A romantic dinner at his father's Ritz Hotel in Paris was to have been followed by a champagne nightcap at his apartment near the Arc de Triomphe.

His butler had already lit the candles and had a bottle of the finest champagne on ice as the sweethearts hurtled to their deaths.

A friend of Dodi said last night: "That would have been typical of him - he was an incurable romantic."

Dodi chose the ring "on approval" from top international jeweller Alexandre Reza, The Mirror learned last night. Reza's Paris branch is right beside the Ritz in the Place Vendome. Dodi made his selection on Saturday morning after returning with the princess from their last holiday in Sardinia.

The couple were on the brink of announcing their wedding plans.

Staff at Reza's would not comment last night. The shop is ultra-discreet - customers cannot simply walk in but have to be admitted by assistants unlocking the door.

But a source at another top Paris gem dealers confirmed the purchase.

He said: "Yes. It is the talk of the trade here.

"If you are someone like Dodi Fayed, you do not walk into the shop and choose a ring from a tray. They come to you.

"Reza is probably the top jeweller in the world for the rich, famous and royalty.

"We have heard that the ring was diamonds and worth a fortune. Someone like Dodi Fayed would not be asked to pay on the spot.

"He would choose it and then someone would pay for it in the next few weeks. That's the way you work with these sort of people."

It is believed that the Reza firm lodged a claim with a London-based insurance company for the value of the ring soon after the crash.

But the claim was withdrawn when the ring - intact and still in its box - was recovered from the wreckage. It was handed along with other items to Diana's sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale, who went to Paris on Sunday afternoon with Prince Charles to collect her body.

Last night the ring was believed to be at Kensington Palace.

A family friend said: "It's so heartbreaking that Dodi gave her the ring that day, only a short while before they died."

A source at the London insurance company said: "The ring, we understand, would still have been the property of Alexandre Reza.

"And for something of this value, it is not unusual for a quick claim to be made because the paperwork in these circumstances can take a long time."

The jewellery firm was founded by 75-year-old Alexandre Reza who escaped from anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia to come to France.

The firm has branches in New York, Geneva, Cannes and Monte Carlo.

He has two houses in Paris and, it is believed, homes on the French Riviera and in the US.

He is also involved in estate agencies, restaurants and holiday firms.
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Author:Oliver, Ted; Mackay, Don
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 4, 1997
Words:542
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