A Brief History of Engagement Rings
October 29, 2014
Engagement rings, the ultimate symbol of love, have been around for hundreds of years. This is certainly no new tradition. So how, when and where did this tradition begin? And how have styles changed throughout time?
• The first evidence of an engagement ring dates back thousands of years to Ancient Egypt. Evidence of a metal ring on the third finger of the left hand has been discovered amongst the buried. It has also been widely documented that the left finger was chosen, as it is the finger with a vein that runs directly to the heart.
• 2nd Century BC women were presented with two rings one gold and one iron. The gold to be only worn on special occasions.
• 1477 The first documented diamond engagement ring, is presented to Mary of Burgundy from Archduke Maximilian.
• 1500’s Fast-forward to the 1500’s and we enter the Shakespearean time when rings were heavily referenced to as engagement and wedding rings.
• 1700’s saw the birth of the Poesy Ring, a gold ring with an engraved inscription.
• 1800’s The Victorian Era, also the era of love, when designs reflected the romanticism of the time. Flowers, hearts and other patterns were prominent. Three stone engagement rings were also one of the most popular styles at this time. It was also when diamond deposits were discovered in Africa significantly increasing the supply, leading to the invention of the classic 6-claw engagement ring.
• 1900’s The industrial revolution has started and the rapid growth and prosperity saw the tradition of engagement rings being adopted by the masses. It was no longer an exclusive tradition set aside for Royalty and the wealthy. With the advancement in technology designs became increasingly more sophisticated and the Round Brilliant Cut diamond was perfected.
• 1920’s and 30’s The Art Deco movement follows on from the Edwardian period. With it we sees a transition from ornate to geometric patterns and increased use of colour. The Art Deco movement is still one of the most popular periods of design continuing to be a source of inspiration for many.
• 1940’s Although the war saw a drift towards more affordable engagement rings the popularity of the tradition did not die. Engagement rings actually became the number one jewellery item in American department stores.
• 1960’s The second most popular diamond cut, The Princess Cut, was invented. From this time on, with the continuous advancement of technology, more diamond cuts were created.
• 1980’s and 90’s Engagement rings reflected the style of the time – yellow gold with big diamonds were the choice for many women.
• 21st Century Moving into the 21st Century where white gold is the choice of metal for most and Round Brilliant Cut diamonds are the most popular by far. This does not mean other styles are not popular. More and more women are looking for a unique design and are drawing on the many different eras to recreate a vintage piece or come up with a striking modern design.