A bride would receive an engagement ring from his man upon acceptance of his marriage proposal. According to anthropologists, this tradition is associated with a Roman custom. The thing is that Ancient Roman wives wore rings attached to small keys, which meant they were “owned” by their husbands. The reason why the ring finger was chosen for wearing rings has to do with the fact that it was believed that the very finger had a vein connected directly to the heart.
The Romans were known for their modest betrothal rings of iron. Later, they started using gold instead of iron. The rings became less popular until in the 12th century, Pope Innocent III established some new ground rules about weddings. According to these rules, people had to organize their wedding in a church, and the bride had to receive a ring. What is more, a new waiting period between betrothal and marriage had to be observed by couples.
European aristocrats began giving engagement rings to their loved ones during the days until they could actually wed.
The History Behind Diamond Engagement Rings
In 1477, Archduke Maximilian of Austria was first to give a diamond engagement ring to his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy. This marked the beginning of a trend for diamond rings among European aristocracy and nobility.
The Victorians preferred engagement rings decorated with diamonds and other gemstones, precious metals and enamels. Often, these rings were designed as flowers and called “Posey rings.” During the Edwardian era, engagement rings continued the tradition of mixing diamonds with other jewels and usually featured filigree settings.
When talking about diamonds, one can’t do without mentioning about De Beers. In 1947, De Beers launched its famous slogan, “A Diamond is Forever.” The De Beers Group of Companies has played a leading role in the diamond exploration, diamond mining, diamond retail, diamond trading and industrial diamond manufacturing sectors.
This campaign resulted in more sales. The durability of a diamond was associated with the meaning that marriage is forever. A diamond’s purity and sparkle now symbolize the depth of a man’s commitment to his loved one almost all over the world.
How did all this start?
In the 1870s, miners discovered huge sources of diamonds in South Africa, and the world market became flooded with diamonds. Diamonds were no longer a rarity and turned into a pretty common commodity.
In 1888, De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd was formed based on the merger of several major South African mines. As a result, a cartel was created that could effectively keep the flow of diamonds from South Africa into world markets under control. Diamonds became scarcer and more valuable. They gained more popularity as the gem on engagement rings.
In the 1930s, when there wasn’t high demand for diamond rings in the U.S. since there were tough economic times, the De Beers Company launched a successful marketing campaign. De Beers had chosen New York ad agency N.W. Ayer for help. They aimed at convincing Americans that diamonds were a must. Beyond any doubt, the agency’s campaign has been one of the most effective throughout history.
The agency got Hollywood’s most famous stars to wear diamonds and encouraged top fashion designers to focus their attention on diamond rings as an emerging trend. The plan was a success. In the first 3 years of the campaign, diamond sales in America increased by more than 50%. In 1947, Ayer copywriter Frances Gerety created the world-known slogan “A Diamond Is Forever.” The sales of diamond engagement rings exceeded the expectations.
So, diamond engagement rings can be considered as the end result of a perfect marketing plan implemented by De Beers.
In the past, people used to follow other traditions instead of wearing a ring for engagement. In England, the man and woman would break a piece of gold or silver and each keeping half. Then, they would drink a glass of wine, to mark their engagement.
In the 19th century, some American women would receive thimbles as symbols of their engagements. After the wedding, they would often cut the bottom off of their thimbles, turning them into rings.
Diamonds weren’t so much widespread on the world market for many years. Diamond engagement rings were quite rare. Today, engagement rings symbolize love and are considered valuable assets.
It’s interesting to note that the round diamond has always been considered as the most popular cut for diamond engagement rings, consisting of 58 facets that divide the stone into a top and bottom half. Next come the princess cut, emerald cut, and the oval cut. The cushion cut is increasingly becoming more popular in the recent years.
From the legal point of view, rings can be rather tricky. The laws associated with engagement rings vary from state to state. For example, in New York, the ring is regarded as a “conditional gift” and the symbol of the marriage. If the marriage isn’t a success, this means the condition hasn’t been met, and the giver can take the ring back. In Montana, rings are considered as normal gifts and can’t be taken back once given.
If the ring is given on a birthday or a holiday, many states view them as gifts and don’t associate them with a condition. So, the law states that the woman can keep the ring even if she breaks off the engagement.
Laws are different in different countries. In Canada, there is a rule, according to which the party that breaks the engagement can’t take back the ring.
In Britain, a fiancée has to legally give up her ring if there is a previous agreement stating this.
To purchase one of the best diamond engagement rings on the market, turn to Bella Diamonds. Striking diamond jewellery pieces offered by Bella Diamonds are among the best in London. At Bella diamonds, you can also find exceptional wedding bands and gemstone jewellery.
What other interesting facts associated with engagement rings do you know? Feel free to share your comments below.