The History of the Engagement Ring

Posted by Dijay Soni on

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.

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