The Evolution of Diamond Engagement Rings

History of The Engagement Ring

As a symbol of love along with our intention to get married, the engagement ring is surely one of the most beautiful and meaningful pieces of jewellery that we will ever own. With the emphasis usually on diamonds, the giving and receiving of the engagement ring has to be one of life’s greatest moments.

wedding propsal

But why is a ring the jewellery piece that we have come to associate with the proposal to be married?

If we go back in time to when men grunted and hunted and lived in a cave, cavemen would braid grass and then tie this around his beloved’s wrists, ankles and waist, believing that this submission would make her succumb to his somewhat primeval charm.

By 2800 B.C. we see the first signs of a ring becoming a sign of togetherness with the exuberant Egyptians being buried with wired rings on the 3rd finger of the left hand with the belief that this would directly connect to the heart via the ‘Vena Amoris’ (literally translated to the ‘vein of love’).

And go forward to the 2nd century B.C. and the Romans are known to give their partner a gold ring that is worn on special occasions as well as at the wedding ceremony which is then replaced by an iron ring to wear as a representation of him owning his wife. This is the beginnings of both an ‘engagement’ ring and ‘wedding’ ring.

As time advances, differing cultures have their own versions that symbolise romantic partnerships – in Asia they give a puzzle ring, and in 1217 the Bishop of Salisbury makes a ring made of rushes a symbol of legal marriage.

But by far the most important date in terms of the modern day engagement ring is 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria asks Mary of Burgundy to be his wife by giving her a ring in the shape of the letter ‘M’ that is set with diamonds, and so the love affair with the diamond engagement ring begins.

mary bagfirst engagement ring

During the 18th and 19th centuries, diamonds are discovered in South Africa and Brazil and this means that there is now a readily available diamond supply worldwide, with the DeBeers Mining Company dominating the industry. With a marketing campaign that used the phrase “A Diamond is Forever” capturing the imagination, the tradition of a diamond engagement ring was well and truly established.

Today’s diamond engagement rings come in a wide range of styles that go beyond the solitaire, with the current trend taking a lot of inspiration from the vintage look.

Whatever style you are looking for, Avita are happy to help find the perfect engagement ring for your proposal, with not a single blade of grass, iron or wire in sight.

Rise of Diamonds Engagement Ring

Have you ever wondered what engagement ring fashion was like over the past 100 years. Let’s travel back in time to see what was in fashion back then!

The 1920’s was a very glamorous time period. With pearls, beading and feathers it was a very glitzy era of fashion. And their engagement rings resembled that. In the 20’s engagement rings with diamond halos were very fashionable and trendy in that time.

Engagement rings with sharp lines and geometric shapes were very fashionable in the 20’s. The Emerald cut and Asscher cut were very common as well. Then topped with a diamond halo surrounding to make these engagement rings more over the top!

Then in 1930’s they go in the complete opposite direction with engagement rings. It is not all about the diamond of the ring, but in fact the band.

This is an inspired ring design, to look like a 1930’s ring. But this is what they would look like. As you can see the very unique ribbon looking band was very popular in the 1930’s.

Then in the 1940’s the timeless Round cut diamonds were back in fashion. This was because of De Beer’s famous “diamonds are forever” advertisement. Then gold and rose gold rings were in fashion as well. This was because of the limited access to platinum because of World War 2.


So, in the 1950’s Pear shaped engagement rings were very popular. Old Hollywood stars like Lana Turner, Judy Garland and Mia Farrow all received pear cut engagement rings from their fiancés. 

Ring stacking also became more popular again. This was because of Audrey Hepburn’s unique and iconic engagement ring. Which is a trio stack of wedding bands. They were platinum, rose gold and gold.

In the 1960’s the era of Hollywood, the Asscher cut and Emerald cut came back into fashion. These two shapes must be very glamours as they were the same shapes from the 20’s and they both have the same glamour feel to this time periods.

Coloured gemstones were also popularised in the 60’s. This was because of Jackie Kennedy’s engagement ring from JFK was a mixture of emeralds and diamonds on her engagement ring.

The Emerald cut still continued its way into the 70’s and carried on being very popular. Also, during the 1970’s it became very popular for brides to match their engagement rings to their wedding band. Which many were either rose gold or gold.

Then in the 1980’s was when it all changed. It was all about the colourful gemstones. Round cut and gold engagement rings were still very popular. But Princess Diana’s engagement ring from Prince Charles in 1981 really changed the engagement ring industry. The ring was a blue sapphire which she chose herself from a jewellery catalogue. Meaning anyone with enough money at time could afford Diana stunning blue sapphire ring. Retailing for £47,000 back in 1981! 

With grunge being a very big fashion style in the 1990’s the engagement rings followed that trend as well. Engagement rings became very sharp and rigid to reflect this grunge look. And that’s when Marquise cut rings came into fashion. Also, the yellow bands were out, and we saw more of platinum and white gold bands.

In the early 2000s Princess cut ruled the engagement ring industry. They most likely had large diamonds or stones in them. With the 60’s influencing the Princess cut for the 2000s.

Then for the 2010’s the Cushion cut diamond was very trendy. It is a more softened look of the 2000s square Princess cut ring.

Then in the modern day of 2022 we find that Oval cut rings are the most popular and have been for a while now. With celebrity influence like Hailey Bieber and Ariana Grande. A thin band with a big Oval diamond is very popular.