There are certain things in this world that have become icons, for whatever reason. In the realm of engagements and marriage, a diamond ring is by far the biggest and most important icon. Even young children recognize the sparkling diamond ring as a symbol of being engaged. Why is this and when did it start? More importantly, why are diamonds specifically used for engagement rings? Let us take a look at this common practice, how it began, and where it stands today.
Yellow diamond engagement ring from Leibish
Read Leibish's take on the history of engagement rings - The Magic of the Ring
The First Diamond Engagement Ring
Many may not know this, but diamonds weren’t always used in jewelry. When they were first discovered thousands of years ago in India, they were used as decorations and as talismans to keep away evil spirits. Later they were believed to “cure” diseases. It was only about a thousand years ago that diamonds started being used in jewelry for the first time. Four hundred years later, the first man proposed with a diamond ring. This was Archduke Maximilian of Austria who asked Mary of Burgundy to be his wife. Thus began a custom of proposing with diamond rings, although it was mainly reserved for the upper class.
While this was the first documented case of a diamond engagement ring, it is by no means the first engagement ring. That tradition has roots that date back to ancient Egypt when reed rings were placed on one another's ring finger to symbolize their betrothal. The ring finger was chosen because it was believed there was a vein in that finger that was connected directly to the heart, symbolizing love.
Yellow diamond engagement ring
The first engagement rings were far less romantic than they are today. In the past they were actually a symbol of ownership. Women were given gold rings by their husbands, and metal ones to wear at home, to show that they belonged to their husbands. Over time this tradition has evolved and is now synonymous with love and mutual commitment.
Diamonds were the original gemstone used in an engagements ring, and once they were discovered in abundance in South Africa, they were marketed by the diamond company as “The” engagement stone one should have. The Great Depression slowed things down a bit, but it picked right back up once the economy strengthened.
Yellow diamond wedding and engagement ring set
Engagement Rings Today
Today diamond engagement rings can be seen in practically every culture. However, as times change, people are moving further away from the traditions of the past and embracing a new world of individuality.
While engagement rings once symbolized ownership, today they symbolize partnership and commitment. In a society where every kind of love is celebrated, it makes sense that tradition evolves. Fancy color diamonds are the perfect alternative for the traditional white diamond engagement ring.
With a plethora of colors, shapes, and sizes, it is no surprise that we are seeing more and more couples that choose color as a way to celebrate their love.
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