The historical beginnings of the engagement ring are a little shocking and not very romantic. Today, we see a symbol of love and commitment, that was once an indication of mere ownership. Thankfully times have changed, and with wedding season fast approaching, now is a good time to learn more about its significance before procuring your own engagement ring.
An Ancient Sign of Ownership
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) affirms that the roots of the engagement ring originated in ancient Rome. The Women of Rome wore rings made of iron, copper, and ivory to convey employment contracts, or to declare mutual love and obedience. Among the ruins of Pompeii, gold rings were discovered, verifying it had emerged as the preferred element for rings during that time.
A Mark for Marriage
In 850, the engagement ring was officially given its meaning by Pope Nicholas I. He announced that the engagement ring signifies a man's intent to marry. Gold was the most favored type of engagement ring in that era. Diamonds didn't emerge on engagement rings until 1477 when Maximilian, the Archduke of Austria, proposed to Mary of Burgundy. The ring displayed long slim diamonds set in the shape of an “M”.
The Rise of Diamonds
Diamond engagement rings did not become widely popular until 1947 when a British mining company in South Africa named De Beers, launched a new ad campaign. Hollywood celebrities helped promote the diamond engagement rings along with slogans like “A diamond is forever”.
The Latest Millennial Trend
Recently, there has been a turn in engagement ring preferences. Diamonds remain the most popular choice, but there is a notable rise in couples selecting more colorful gems, and rings made with various precious metals. This trend is increasing more and more, even in Hollywood.