The History and Meaning of Engagement Rings

Today we are going to discuss the most important topic ever – love. From the beginning, two different people meet and form an eternal alliance. This union is based on mutual love, respect and friendship. Although traditions vary from culture to culture and from time to time, they still hold true today, centuries later.


In the 21st century, one of the most iconic symbols of love is the engagement ring. A timeless diamond crafted from smooth precious metal to wear on your loved one’s wedding ring finger. Engagement rings as we know them today are a relatively new concept.


In this blog post you will learn:

1. The History of Engagement Rings

2. Cross-Cultural Engagement Rings

3. Historical engagement rings

4. Iconic Diamond Solitaire


1. The History of Engagement Rings

Like many things in life, engagement rings originated in ancient Rome as a symbol of ownership. The concept sounds controversial now, but at the time it protected women from being touched by men other than their husbands. Ancient engagement rings did not have diamonds; they often featured ivory, flint, bone, copper, iron and conveyed “a business contract confirming mutual love and obedience,” according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Archaeological finds in Pompeii prove that gold rings have been the material of choice for engagement rings since the Christian era.

First diamond engagement ring

Appeared in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Australia proposed to Mary of Burgundy. The ring features long, narrow diamonds arranged to form the letter “M,” which stands for Mary, GIA said.

In 1901, the engagement ring trend reached the United States and became extremely popular. Edwardian and Art Deco era engagement ring designs stand out for their feminine, delicate and sophisticated designs. These rings feature a larger old mine or old European cut diamond, then set in primarily handcrafted platinum and display intricate filigree or engraved metalwork.


2. Cross-Cultural Engagement Rings

(1) Chile

Both men and women receive engagement rings, which are worn on the right hand before marriage and on the left hand during the wedding ceremony. This tradition represents the transition from engagement to marriage. Sound familiar? This is what we do at graduation ceremonies in the United States, when you receive your diploma, the tassel on your cap moves from right to left.


(2) Japan

Akoya Japanese saltwater pearls are the rarest and most sought-after pearls in the world. They are so rare that at some point they were thought not to exist. When Kokichi Mikimoto invented the world’s first cultured pearl, a new chapter in history began. Japanese engagement rings have long featured pearls. They are a gift from nature, luxurious, simple, elegant everything Japanese women love.


(3) France

Although diamonds are very popular in the Western world, the French often use sapphires, emeralds or rubies.


(4) United Kingdom

The British Royal Family started the sapphire cluster ring trend in the United States, known as the Princess Diana Cluster, and now owned by Kate Middleton, the Classic Sapphire Cluster Diamond Engagement Ring is now extremely popular and desirable.


(5) Kenya

Instead of traditional engagement rings, couples exchange exquisite jewelry.

Hindu Culture – Women wear toe rings to symbolize their engagement to a man. These toe rings are called “Bichiya”. Toe rings are believed to promote fertility by compressing nerves connected to the reproductive system.


(6) Indian culture

In some parts of India, women wear many delicate bracelets instead of traditional engagement rings. The bracelet symbolizes a bright future and prosperity, which is the key to a successful Indian marriage. Additionally, on their wedding day, Indian women wear luxurious and exquisite gold jewelry.


(7) Ireland

Claddagh Rings – These rings represent friendship, loyalty and love. The hands represent friendship, the heart symbolizes love, and the crown represents loyalty. Here’s where it gets interesting: Wear the ring on your right hand with the crown facing you to show that you’re single. If you are in a relationship, wear it on your right hand with the crown facing outward. Move to your left hand with the crown facing you to indicate engagement. Finally, it is worn on the left hand with the crown facing outward, symbolizing marriage.


3. Historical engagement rings

(1) From Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine de Beauharnais (1796)
(2) From Prince Albert to Queen Victoria (1840)

The couple was known for their long and passionate love. Symbolizing everlasting love, this twisted snake-shaped ring is crafted from gold and features an emerald, the birthstone of Queen Victoria.

(3) From John F. Kennedy to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier (1953)

Jacqueline Kennedy’s ring was designed by Van Cleef & Arpels and features 2.88 carats of diamonds, 2.84 carats of emeralds and several tapered baguette diamonds.

(4) From Mel Ferrer to Audrey Hepburn (1954)

Audrey Hepburn was a fashion icon of her time. Knowing she was about to marry a 1950s fashionista, Mel Ferrer proposed to him with three stackable white gold, diamond, yellow and rose gold eternities ring. She can switch them out or wear all three, depending on her outfit that day.

(5) From Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer (1981)

The soon-to-be princess was just 19 when she received a ring carefully selected by royal jeweler Garrard. She chose a sapphire cluster, which featured a 12-carat Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds. Princess Diana’s son, Prince William, used the ring to propose to his future wife, Kate Middleton.


4. Iconic Diamond Solitaire

1886 marked a memorable year in Tiffanys history when it introduced the engagement ring as we know it today. Tiffany & Co. invented a solitaire diamond ring setting in which the diamond is held in place by 6 invisible prongs, allowing light to pass through the diamond and reflect more light.


Diamond engagement rings became the standard engagement ring in 1947, when DeBeers, a major diamond miner and supplier, launched an advertising campaign with the slogan: “A diamond is forever.” This is not only true for centuries. One of the most iconic slogans and one that has skyrocketed in popularity and sales of diamond engagement rings.

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