The tradition of a man presenting his intended bride with an engagement ring upon acceptance of his marriage proposal has been around for far longer than you would think.
Anthropologists have estimated that this practice started with the Ancient Egyptians, and later more formally as a Roman custom where wives would indicate their husbands’ ‘ownership’ by wearing a ring attached to a small key.
The idealistic Victorians set the way for ornate engagement ring designs, mixing diamonds with other gemstones and precious metals, and commonly mounted in filigree settings. These rings were often crafted in the shapes of flowers and therefore referred to as ‘posy rings’.
With the “A Diamond is Forever” campaign in 1947, De Beers spurred even more sales as this slogan implied the durability of a diamond and the reference that marriage is forever.
AN AGE-OLD TRADITION
Engagement rings have established their worth with every style statement throughout the ages, the compositions changed to adapt to society and status but eventually reverted to the classics. See our breakdown of the evolution of Engagement Rings below:
The Ancient World (1600-1000 BC)
We find that wedding rings date back to Ancient Egyptian times where they were first given as a sign of lifelong commitment to love. These Egyptians were also the first to wear the ring on the left hand’s fourth finger as they believed it was connected to the heart by the Vena Amoris (Vein of Love).
Ancient Rome (500 BC)
In Roman times, husbands would usually give their betrothed two rings: a gold ring on the proposal of engagement (to symbolise the wealth of the man), and an iron ring after the wedding (representing the wife’s contractual blood).
Medieval Europe (1200 – 1400 AD)
‘Poetry’ rings were quite popular, worn in stacks that were added on throughout a long-term romance. These rings usually had short statements of love engraved in either French or Latin.
The Renaissance (1400 – 1600 AD)
In 1477 the Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented what was considered the first prototype of an engagement ring to Mary of Burgundy. (See our March blog for more information).
The Victorian Era (1832 – 1900)
Whimsical designs and patterns including flowers, bows, and hearts set the standard during this period and reflected the romance between Queen Victoria and her husband Albert. During this time, Tiffany & Co. also developed a classic six-prong technique which raised the diamond or gemstone above the setting to show it off even more.
Edwardian Era to Today (1900 – present)
The 1920s experienced the rise of geometric cuts and ring designs, moving away from the traditional stones and including more rubies, sapphires and birthstones. The preferred metal was also now platinum, with white gold following due to shortages of platinum during WWII. As the 1970s were characterised by more radiant and square cuts, this shifted trend again during the 1980s with the sapphire ring presented to Princess Diana.
Popular diamond cuts during the last century:
The most famous cut has always been the round brilliant, followed by the oval and emerald cut and the cushion cut gaining favour thereafter.
1920s – Emerald and Asscher cut
1930s – Round diamonds
1940s – Round diamonds
1950s – Pear cut
1960s – Asscher cut
1970s – Emerald cut
1980s – Round diamonds
1990s – Marquise cut
2000s – Princess cut
2010s – Cushion cut
Times have changed since the standard was for a man to purchase an engagement ring with a diamond setting. Tradition has evolved to include other precious stones, matching ring styles, ethically sourced stones and completely custom designs.
We hope this evolution has inspired you to dream up a unique engagement ring, and Déonne le Roux Jewellers is expertly experienced to help you create the ring you deserve and to infuse your style and personality. Check out some of our Custom Design rings for even more inspiration and ideas and make sure to contact us today!
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