Engagement Rings Throughout The Years
It has been a tradition for many to seal an engagement with a significant other with engagement rings. With all this focus on engagement rings, some of you might be curious; just how did the tradition of giving engagement rings come to be? Read on and see a few notes in history that shaped the way people give engagement rings today.
A long time ago…
Surprisingly, the concept of ‘putting a ring on it’ goes back to ancient times. Archaeological evidence indicates that Egyptians would wear elaborate rings that they shared with their wives, to indicate their sharing of their wealth and power. The famous philosopher Pliny the Elder commented on the practice of Roman husbands having their wives wear iron rings at home to symbolise their bind as a couple. The sheiks and sultans of pre-historic Asia, meanwhile, started handing out puzzle rings to tag their harem of wives during the 1st Century BC. For such a small piece of jewellery, engagement rings sure go way back in history.
While common perception is that rings have always been made of metal and precious stones, recent findings indicate that this was not always the case. There are theories that suggest that the first ‘engagement rings’ were made of leaves, bark, and other degradable items. These kinds of rings were not only symbolic of the relationship between the couple wearing them, but also symbolic of the connection they have with the earth that sustains them. Metal rings would not come into circulation until after humans learned how to forge metal.
The Church sayeth thus…
The Church itself had a say in the evolution of engagement rings. Back in the 9th Century, Pope Nicolas I proposed the usage of a ring to symbolise a man’s wealth and ability to care for his bride. Pope Innocent III would follow up on this in the 11th Century, by decreeing an extended period for wearing the ring, and approval for the rings to be made from precious metals. The Archbishop of Canterbury was also involved, making all nuptials that involved rings legitimate in a bid to curtail men of higher stature from luring maids into mock betrothals.
One of the most common tales involving engagement rings is that of Archduke Maximillian of Austria, who reportedly commissioned the creation of a diamond engagement ring for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy. This may be considered the first recorded use of a diamond ring for a proposal, but the history of diamond rings only got going in very recent times. The discovery of massive diamond mines in Africa late in the 1800’s spurred trade of the precious stone, making precious stone jewellery accessible to the general public for the first time. Fast forward to 1938; with the world reeling from the effects of the Depression and sitting about nervously with war on the horizon, De Beers launched the ‘Diamonds are Forever’ campaign, sealing diamond’s place as the perfect stone for engagement rings, a reputation it still keeps today..
Today and tomorrow
While diamond still retains the top seat as the stone of choice for rings over the years, the rings themselves have come under different changes and alterations that fit the current era. It’s a sight to observe how the humble engagement ring transformed over the years, something that a fashion media outfit has taken notice of. Mode.com created a video that compiles unique ring designs that became prominent over the past 100 years. This is a good snapshot of how the people’s tastes change, and can be enlightening for those seeking a different approach to their rings.
Engagement rings continue to change every day, in both style and substance. Who knows, design your ring at Hatton Jewels and maybe you can start the next big engagement ring trend!