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When and How Did Engagement Rings Become a Custom?




A glorious tradition upheld by modern day fascination with the romance of celebrity proposals, engagement rings have been in the limelight for a long time. With its history dating back to the ancient times, engagement ring began its journey in the land of the pharaohs and pyramids.


Ancient Egyptians believed circles represent the essence of eternity where rings of braided reeds were exchanged between wedded couples. Worn on the ring finger of left hand, the engagement ring connected to the Vena amoris, the vein which channeled to the heart. The tradition was adopted by the ancient Greeks and can be traced back to the ancient Romans.

However, engagement rings did not signify anything romantic with the Romans. It was all about ownership of the bride signifying her complete possession by the husband. Hence, there were two rings for the bride-to-be – the gold one for her public appearance and iron ring when she attended her household duties. Nevertheless, this popular belief has been called to question by the contemporary scholarship.




From Middle Ages to the Twenty First Century


The journey of the engagement ring was full of excitement through the Middle Ages, renaissance, Victorian era to the twentieth century. The Renaissance witnessed the introduction of diamond in an engagement ring which would receive immense prominence centuries later. The first documented use of diamond engagement ring was in 1477 by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria where he declared his betrothal to Mary of Burgundy which influenced and created a trend of giving diamond rings among aristocrats.

Everything changed with the discovery of diamonds in South Africa. The De Beers Group – a leading international corporation specializing in all things diamond – exploration, mining, retail, trading and industrial manufacturing, since its inception in 1880, controlled 90 percent of global diamond production. De Beers started a marketing campaign in 1938 that went on to change the image of diamond and engagement ring for the years to come. By the early 40s, diamond engagement ring became the leading jewelry line across stores. The De Beers campaign proved the power of effective marketing as it persuaded consumers into believing that engagement rings are indispensable and only diamond is the acceptable gemstone for an engagement ring.




The Industry of Engagement Rings


The trend that started with De Beers was taken to a whole new height by the leading jewelers and designers. Now, over 80 per cent of brides in America choose a diamond engagement ring over any other gemstones. The price of an engagement ring depends on the materials used – the design of a ring, if the ring includes any gemstone, value of the gemstone, and the brand of the seller. According to a study by Jewelers of America, couples on an average spend $4,000 on engagement rings.


Popular Cuts in Diamond Engagement Ring


When it comes to diamond engagement rings, the round brilliant cut has remained the most popular choice, over the years. Other cuts including princess cut, emerald cut, cushion and oval cut have been gaining quite a reputation as dazzling choice of diamonds in engagement rings.

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