Curious about the history of engagement rings? This quick run through will give you the quick summary.
When he pops the question and she says “yes,” she’s probably not aware that the ring he’s slipping onto her finger was once much less of a romantic proposition. Anthropologists trace this tradition to Roman times when it was quite customary for wives to wear rings with small keys attached to them, symbolizing they were owned by their husbands.
But this fairytale does have a happy ending. The Archduke Maximillian of Austria loved Mary of Burgundy so much that he had a diamond engagement ring created in 1477 just for her, the first of its kind. See? Romance is still very much alive. Back then, it set the world of jewelry ablaze for the elite and noble of society.
Thanks to the aristocrats, ornate engagement ring designs prevailed. Some had diamonds along with other precious gems. Markedly during that time, there was a surge of flower shapes, called “posey rings.” As styles changed, the meaning behind these rings changed too. It evolved from a place of ownership to a place of love, which really is a beautiful thing.
Does an engagement ring have to have diamonds?
Engagement rings don’t need to have diamonds in them to be considered an engagement ring. Through the Victorian era most engagement rings were very simple and most often doubled a wedding rings as well. Through this time it was only common for gems or diamonds to be on the rings of nobility and aristocracy.
In fact, choosing the ring that she desires, diamond or not, is the right course of action. Diamonds became the “it” thing in engagement rings in the late 19th century when De Beers saw an opportunity to drive up sales whilst operating a South African diamond mine.
(side note: Did you know that diamonds are not nearly as rare as we are lead to believe? The main driving force is that only a handful of companies control the majority of diamonds that come to market. This means they also control the prices.)
Despite the Great Depression, De Beers found a clever way to keep sales for diamonds climbing. The answer came in the form of a brilliantly simple slogan created in 1947 by Frances Gerety, a copywriter at Philadelphia agency NW Ayer. Her now-legendary four-word slogan still come to mind for most people, something she probably never expected to have such a profound impact on the jewelry industry or the way that people perceive diamonds.
“A Diamond Is Forever” lives on in infamy as one of the most successful advertising slogans of all time. Coupled with photos of glamorous starlets, it’s little wonder why women everywhere fawned all over this sparkling adornment and saw their success in how many karats encircled their ring finger.
For diamond engagement rings, the round brilliant cut is still one of the top choices though princess, emerald, oval, and more recently, cushion, are quite popular as well. Whether you choose diamonds or other gems, or even some combination of both, perhaps a better way to express your love forevermore would be to choose a personalized unique engraving that makes it unlike anything else in the world. Surely, nothing is more precious than a ring that can be worn by none other than you.
We don't carry diamond rings but we do have some beautiful personalized rings and you can choose the stone colors. Check them out here