It has become customary for couples to share an engagement ring as a symbol of commitment to marriage. When did this practice start? As many as 5000 years ago, ancient Egyptians used rings as a token of love. When did they first begin to be used to denote engagement? Perhaps our modern traditions are based on a long history of using rings to show devotion.
Engagement Rings in Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt
According to anthropologists, Rome is where the custom of gifting an engagement ring first emerged. Women were expected to wear rings made of ivory, flint, bone, copper, and iron to symbolize a bond of love and submission. Gold rings were later discovered at the Pompeii ruins, a surviving ancient Roman city, demonstrating the precious metal's rise to popularity in the common era.
Engagement rings had been a relic there since 4800 B.C. They were constructed back then from braided papyrus and reed. The grassy circles were known as "the ring" by the Egyptians, who interpreted them as symbols of eternity and preparing to enter family life. People gave each other this piece of jewelry specifically to communicate their emotions for one another. Egyptians opted to designate one finger on a hand as the "ring finger" to make everything extra special. As you can see, the concept of an engagement ring was created in Ancient Egypt as a physical representation of the cosmic sensation that births a future family.
The Gold Ring and the Iron Ring
The Romans followed their customs. Before the wedding, a man used to present his fiancée with two rings. In public, a woman was required to wear one of them, which was made of gold. It was meant for the iron ring to be worn at home. The iron ring may easily be lost because keeping up with households was difficult. The more expensive ring was designed for public appearances because of this. Romans, however, were not very passionate in their presentation of this jewelry item. To symbolize her reliance on her husband, a woman wore a ring attached to tiny keys.
One iron ring was worn at home, and one gold ring was worn in public to impress people. The Roman wives were also known to own two rings. The selection of metals was deliberate. Gold was employed as a sign of prosperity, whereas iron represented power and endurance.
Diamonds and Other Gemstones Are Added to Gold Engagement Bands
Pope Nicholas I proclaimed that an engagement ring symbolized a man's intention to marry a woman with gold, the most popular metal at the time, established the engagement ring's formal significance. Records state that in 1477, Archduke Maximillian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy wearing a diamond engagement ring for the first time. The ring had diamonds with elongated cuts set in an "M" design. This encouraged European nobles and aristocracy to wear diamond rings. However, the trend remained among royalty and the elite. It took another 200 years for the tradition of diamond engagement bands to spread to the rest of the culture.
In the 1500s, Victorians traditionally gave "regards" rings to their significant other as an engagement. The word "Regard" was spelled out in the precious gems they used to adorn their gold engagement rings. Just like the Ancient Egyptians, the British-American tradition was to designate a woman's left-hand ring to indicate her formal commitment to be married. The gemstones used at the time were Ruby, Garnet, Amethyst, Emerald, and occasionally Diamond.
Engagement rings were frequently embellished throughout the Victorian era (June 20, 1837–January 22, 1901) with a combination of diamonds and other gemstones, precious metals, and enamels. These rings, known as "posy rings," were frequently made to resemble flowers. Brides continued to favor filigree-set engagement rings with a combination of diamonds and other gems during the Edwardian era (1901–1910).
"A Diamond Is Forever"
In reality, it wasn't until 1947 that diamond engagement rings took off, thanks to an advertising effort by De Beers, the most prominent diamond firm in history. The phrase "A Diamond is Forever" has revolutionized the jewelry industry and inspired individuals to fantasize about wearing a diamond engagement ring. The diamond market ice was ultimately broken in the 1870s when miners in South Africa started finding massive diamond veins. Mine owners understood they needed a new strategy because diamonds soon became a fairly common commodity if they wanted to maintain the high price of the gem. To become De Beers Consolidated Miners, Ltd., three significant South African mines amalgamated in 1888. The merger provided an opportunity to successfully manage the movement of diamonds from South Africa onto international markets. Diamonds started becoming increasingly popular as a jewel for engagement rings as a result of them becoming rarer and more valuable.
De Beers launched yet another excellent marketing strategy in the late 1930s. They contacted N.W. Advertising in New York. Ayer seeks assistance in persuading Americans that they urgently require diamonds. The agency encouraged top designers to promote diamond rings as a new trend and persuaded Hollywood's greatest stars to wear diamond jewelry. The strategy was executed flawlessly. The campaign's first three years saw a 50% rise in sales of American diamonds. It was among the most successful campaigns ever.
This is remarkable considering only 10 percent of first-time brides received a diamond engagement ring in 1940. By 1990, that number raised to 80 percent. While engagement rings have been around since Ancient Rome, it was only after De Beers' advertising campaign in the late 1930s that diamond engagement rings became a traditional symbol of commitment to marry.
Engagement Rings Today
Almost all cultures have adopted the left ring finger to signify an engagement and a marriage. In parts of Europe and South America, it is common practice for the bride-to-be to purchase an engagement ring for the groom-to-be. It is thought the engagement ring is an indication of the husband's wealth. In the U.S., it is customary for the engagement ring to be worth two to three months of the husband's salary. Although, there are differing opinions about the price. Many still believe it is a symbol of not only status but love. It could be said that it is an investment and reflects the level of commitment a man is willing to make. While others believe the gesture of the proposal and the relationship between the couple are more important than material objects. Regardless of anyone else's standards, everyone should do what feels best for them in a partnership.
3 Interesting Facts About Diamond Engagement Rings
- The most expensive engagement ring recorded was a 33-carat Asscher cut Krupp Diamond. This $8.8 million ring was given to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton.
- Ancient cultures chose the left fourth finger because they believed it ran directly to the heart.
- Only 20 percent of diamonds are used in the application of jewelry. The rest is used industrially.
- Many proposals are denied because of poor ring choice, or worse– there was no ring.
Modern Engagement Ring Trends in 2022
Many modern engagement ring trends are returning to their roots in Ancient Rome and following the historical style timeline up to the present day. Classic and antique styles are gaining popularity in 2022.
The increasing gravitation toward vintage-styled rings is an exciting apsect of the 2022 engagement ring movement. Antique engagement rings are at the leading edge market, just like thrifting and vintage finds have dominated the fashion sector. Finding a one-of-a-kind, heritage piece can be pretty special, but vintage-inspired rings still allow you to maintain your style. A classic design can be updated by using a new band, diamond shape, or cut, and vintage elements can be added to your diamond by using hand engraving, mill graining, draping, and filagree motifs. Even the classic cushion cut is making a comeback. Late last year, a vintage-style diamond cut saw sales increase by 118%. It is not surprising that Cushion Cut engagement rings are currently trending more than other traditional classics because they have long been a reliable and classic choice among aspiring brides.
Colored stones are in style right now, allowing couples to choose something eye-catching and vibrant to symbolize their love story. This year, emerald, morganite, and sapphire are exceptionally well-liked choices.
Stacking designs of rings is another fashion trend that has dominated the market. With the design, each buyer can experiment with different shapes and combinations. A stacked set can also draw attention to an existing piece. The stacked and nested wedding designs are a unique approach to draw attention to the center stone.
There has been a surge in demand for oval-shaped diamonds, and this trend will only continue in 2022. An oval's soft, oblong shape emphasizes the hand and makes the fingers appear longer. With several stones or a ring with decorations, the diamond can speak for itself or be raised even more.
Black diamonds are also peaking in interest, which many accredit to the highly anticipated reboot of Sex and the City. The main character, Carrie Bradshaw, sports a black diamond engagement ring.
More and more rings with extra stones, such as emphasized galleries and hidden halo, are to be expected. The goal of this unusual trend, which places diamonds beneath the ring's focal stone, is to give usually understated styles more glitter and specific customization. These subtle accents frequently go with solitaire designs and are timeless modern classics with a unique spin.
Bigger is Better!
At least when it comes to engagement ring trends for 2022, bigger is better. Grand, extravagant designs are in high demand among soon-to-wed couples. Consider edgy designs, big diamonds, and halo cuts.
4 Reasons to Propose With an Antique Diamond Engagement Ring
When it comes to engagement rings, countless designs, shapes, settings, and diamonds are available. Choosing the best one for your significant other can be difficult. The choice of metal and whether the ring should be elaborate or basic will mostly depend on your personal preferences and style and those of your significant other.
There is one more decision to make after determining the type of ring they might enjoy for the rest of their lives: new or vintage?
Antique Diamond Rings Are a Unique Find
Wearing an engagement ring has a certain quality that makes it unique. It may give you the impression that it was chosen just for you and belongs to no one else. It represents your love and loyalty, not that of anybody else. You two are unique people with distinct personalities, and you both operate in your way. You can add modern touches and design the ring, making it one-of-a-kind.
Antique Rings Make Wonderful Family Relics
When selecting an engagement ring, you choose a piece of jewelry that will be passed down through the generations in your family. It will be worn by your beloved for the remainder of their life before being passed down to your offspring or other close family members.
Antique Rings Are Historical
Not only are engagement rings stunning, but they also frequently have fascinating histories. Consider the history of the person(s) who have worn your ring, the places it has traveled, and the historical events it may have witnessed. Each antique ring has a backstory. You are purchasing a piece of history when you purchase one. Years before you or your lover, the individuals who made the ring left their mark on the planet. When buying an antique ring, you know it may have withstood social change, the ups and downs of significant world events, and changing fashion trends.
Antique Rings Hold Their Value
Compared to mass-produced and uniform jewelry, vintage and antique jewelry trends keep their worth far better. Even if there will always be exceptions, it's a good idea to know that the things you decide to hold are worth it in addition to being sentimental. When considering two rings—one made 75 years ago and the other today—it often reveals a night-and-day difference in their general quality, craftsmanship, and design.
Are you unsure what diamond ring to buy your significant other for your engagement? Please get in touch with a diamond specialist at King of Jewelry so we can help you make a decision that will make your proposal a perfect success to remember for years to come!