History of Engagement Rings

An engagement ring with a bluestoneAn engagement ring is a sign of appreciation of love between two people, signifying their engagement and a promise to marry shortly. A man gives his lover a ring as an engagement gift when proposing marriage or accepting the marriage proposal. It is an expression of love towards one and another, symbolizing the intent and willingness to spend life together in sickness and health.

In some places, men and women wear rings that match, and they also use engagement rings as wedding rings. Usually, these rings are made of expensive stones, such as diamonds or gemstones. Some people wear rings on the left-hand ring finger, some on the right – it’s different in different parts of the world.

History of Engagement RingsAccording to experts, the tradition of wearing and giving engagement rings originated in the Roman era. The wives used to wear rings attached to small keys, showing that they belonged to their husbands. 

In the Victorian era, engagement rings ornate with diamonds, gemstones, precious metals, and enamels became popular. The rings were made in the shape of flowers and were known as “posy rings.” The diamond rings became famous during the reign of King Edward VII. The tradition remained of pairing diamonds with other jewels on the filigree rings.

Historical Timeline of Engagement Rings

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Ancient Roman Rings of Ivory, 1477

In Ancient Rome, men used to give women rings of ivory, flint, bone, copper, or iron to indicate a transaction. It was given as a sign of love and obedience between a man and a wife or a man and his slave. 

Archduke Maximilian and The First Diamond Ring, 1477

According to the Gemological Institute of America, Archduke Maximilian of Austria was the first person to finance the first-ever diamond ring for his bride, Mary of Burgundy, in 1477.

Gimmel Rings, 1525

In 1525, the Gimmel Rings came into the being. They were two rings that joined together, forming a unified ring. After the engagement, the men and women would wear one part of the ring. 

Later on, during the wedding ceremony, they would join their rings back together, and then the bride would wear the bound ring. Catherine Bora and Martin Luther chose the same type of ring for their marriage in the same year.

Delicate Designs and Elaborate Details of Rings, 1901

In the Edwardian era, the designs were made with delicate and elaborate detailing. Most of the rings had a large diamond, and the jeweler’s goal was to get as many diamonds on the piece as he possibly could. They carved the diamonds carefully as they could while marking intricate and detailed designs onto the ring. 

European Diamond Cut, 1910

The diamond ring European cut was introduced in 1910 and is a predecessor of the brilliant-cut diamond method and resembles the modern brilliant-cut diamond. The hand-cut round stone style remained popular till the late 30s. It still exists today among the vintage jewelry makers and collectors.

White Metals, Platinum and White Gold Rings, 1920s

In the 1920s, modern fashion, art, and ring styles became trendy. The engagement rings started being made of white metals, platinum, and white gold compared to the Victorian or Edwardian era, where people used yellow and rose gold commonly. 

White metal was the color of choice, and you could see that in the designs of rings made during that period. The white metals gave a modern and sleek look to the rings, making them stand out.

Asscher Diamond Cut, 1922

The Asscher’s diamond ring cut got famous in 1922 and became one of the most common engagement ring styles. It was initially invented in 1902 by the Asscher family; the design looked very similar to the emerald cut but was broader and had larger step facets that allowed the diamond to appear more vibrant and clear.

A Mix of Diamonds and Gemstones, 1925

Art deco’s jewelry was known for having a mix of diamonds with colored gemstones that became common as engagement rings. The center stone was usually either a sapphire, emerald, or ruby instead of a diamond. A balance of both diamonds and gemstones became the trending styles for engagement rings during this era. 

Simplistic Rings, 1930

During the great depression, many couples preferred less extravagant engagement rings. As a result, the style became more simplistic, and stones became smaller, owing to the time’s financial crises.

Platinum Engagement Rings Became a Common Choice, 1939

In 1939, platinum began being used widely in engagement rings and became a common choice for people until World War II. 

Unique Designs on Rings, 1940s

In the 1940s, fashion was about doing more with less and that was also the case with the engagement rings. The jewelers added intricate designs like leaves, flowers, bows, or hearts to the engagement rings and smaller stones.

The Glamorous Cushion-Cut and Solitaire Stone, 1940s

Glamorous cushion ring cut with solitaire center stones were the most common engagement ring styles during the 1940s. The ring looked very simplistic, with a solitaire stone on it as the centerpiece. 

The Boom of Diamond Rings, 1950

After De Beer’s success in diamond mining, the diamond sales went to an all-time high in the 1950s. As a result, diamond ring proposals became a custom. The trending ring style of that time was one with a solitaire stone with diamond baguettes on the sides of the ring. 

The diamond’s purity and sparkle now became symbols of the depths of two people’s commitment to each other. The opening of De Beer’s mines in Africa made the diamonds more accessible to the people.

Emerald Cutting, 1953

Ever since Jacqueline Kennedy’s debut, the public became interested in her long before becoming the first lady of the United States. The engagement ring that she received from John F. Kennedy hugely influenced the trend of engagement rings. A very unique and complicated Van Cleef and Arpels’s ring was fitted with an emerald cut with diamond and emerald stones placed together with a leaf-shaped diamond set.

Origin of Marquise-Cut, 1970

In the 1970s, the angular and geometric rings became very popular, making the ring exclusive and genuine. One of the primary examples of this design was the ring given to Jackie Kennedy by her second husband. The ring was shaped in a marquise-cut style which became a trending ring style very quickly.

Princess-Cut become Popular, 1973

The princess-cut was first introduced in the 1960s; it was only in the 1970s that this engagement ring’s style became popular. The trend was a square diamond ring with solitaire or tapered baguettes on the ring’s side.

Matching Rings, 1975

People started taking a personalized approach for their rings. As a result, it became common for the bride and groom to design matching wedding rings. Jewelers would also sell you a pair of matching wedding bands to your engagement rings for both parties.

Colored Rings, 1982 

In 1982, Princess Diana chose a sapphire and diamond cluster ring from a Garrard catalog. She didn’t know at that time that she would be starting an industry-wide trend. She debuted her ring in Buckingham Palace, on the lawn of this year. The colored engagement rings began to make a big comeback as a result. 

Gold Rings, 1990 

In the 1990s, the rings started being made in yellow from 24-carat gold. The trend of golden rings is still around in some parts of the world. 

Solitaire Design, 1995

In 1995, simplicity was the new trend, and people moved on from the expensive engagement rings. Hence, the standard design of engagement rings was just a simple ring with a solitaire diamond design on the top.

Marquise-Cut, 1998

The marquise-cut, also known as the football-shaped cut, was brought back. That all happened when Victoria Beckham was seen wearing an engagement ring from the famous footballer and model David Beckham in 1998.

Engagement Rings – Historical Notion of Expressing Love and Gratitude

Engagement rings have been around in different forms originating from the ancient Roman Empire. Throughout the centuries, it has undergone many changes and improvements. Today, people still utilize some of those designs worldwide to create their perfect engagement rings.