Men head over heels for the woman of their dreams have always promised their everlasting love through the giving of a diamond ring, right? Wrong. Although it has now become common practice for a man to propose to his betrothed with a diamond engagement ring, this is actually a fairly recent practice. Let’s look at the history behind the diamond engagement ring.
The Middle Ages
The idea of an engagement period came about in the Middle Ages when Pope Innocent III announced a mandatory waiting period between a couple’s engagement and marriage. During this time, it was common for rings to be exchanged, but these were usually just simple bands. The first recorded diamond engagement ring was given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. By the end of the 19th century, it was common to give engagement rings sporting the best stone the groom could buy.
After Maximilian, the practice of giving diamond engagement rings among the European aristocracy and nobility gained momentum. The Victorians were famous for their ornate designs which often combined diamonds with other gemstones and precious metals. Many of these were shaped into beautiful flowers and were called “posey rings”.
Enter De Beers
Diamond engagement rings didn’t become popular in the United States until less than 100 years ago with the De Beers Diamond Company. When diamonds were first discovered in South Africa, De Beers needed to figure out a way to make it rich in the diamond industry. They did this by extending the company’s hold on the diamond trade to all facets of the industry. Even though there was a massive flood of diamonds, the world’s leading diamond company maintained that the diamond supply was scarce and consequently diamonds were a rare and valuable treasure. De Beers also manipulated the demand. In 1947, the classic slogan “A Diamond is Forever” was launched. Diamond sales skyrocketed. Eventually, the diamond ring began to symbolize deep commitment and everlasting love. After this campaign, a man proposing to the woman he loved wouldn’t dare do it without a diamond.
Although more people today are branching out to the use of other gemstones or unique designs for their engagement rings, the diamond ring has stood the test of time and is still the go-to symbol of undying love for the betrothed. In fact, many couples want to find vintage diamond rings that have already stood the test of time. EraGem has a gorgeous selection of old diamonds if you are interested in a ring that still sparkles with timeless beauty.