Engagement rings are one of the most important pieces of jewelry in a person’s life. These sacred rings are an iconic symbol of the love and commitment you and your partner promised each other. At every wedding, the bride and groom must present each other with engagement rings to symbolize their promises of love and companionship. But these rings have not come up as a trade recently. Engagement rings have been around for centuries, and their history is as fascinating as the rings. In this article, we will journey through time to explore the history of engagement rings, from their origins to modern-day customs.
History of Engagement Rings Through the Different Eras
1. Ancient Egypt
In Egyptian culture, there are several mentions of using a variety of jewels for their crowns, staff, and even their clothes. It is well-known that the ancient Egyptians wore clothes made of gold thread, and they used to heap all the riches of a person into their tomb once they died. There is evidence of the tradition of giving rings to symbolize love in ancient Egypt. Egyptians used woven reeds or leather to make engagement rings; the circle symbolizes eternity. They believed that the vein in the fourth finger of the left hand led straight to the heart, so this finger became the “ring finger” for engagement rings.
2. Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome is regarded as the seat of modern culture, as the Roman Empire is famous for its taste in art, music, and all things fancy. In ancient Rome, engagement rings were often made of iron and were a sign of legal agreement between the families of the bride and the groom. Later, wealthy Romans began using gold rings with engraved designs and gemstones, such as silver amethyst rings, to present to their betrothed.
3. Middle Ages
While the Middle Ages are mostly famous for the rise of varying views on religion amongst men, the taste of people living in the Middle Ages in jewelry is also well-known. During those times, engagement rings were exchanged between two people before marriage to symbolize love and passion. Rings were often engraved with romantic messages and were adorned with precious stones. In some cultures, the groom would give his bride two rings: one for engagement and one for marriage.
The Renaissance was when a certain section of the people saw a massive rise in their wealth. Those rich men were instrumental in increasing the popularity of exchanging engagement rings as a ritual before marriage. Rings were often more ornate and decorative, and gemstones were more prominent during this time. Diamonds became more popular, although other precious stones, such as rubies and sapphires, were also used.
5. Victorian Era
The Victorian era was a time of great romanticism, and engagement rings reflected this. Rings during this time were often elaborate and included intricate metalwork and gemstones. The popular choice of stone during the reign of Queen Victoria I was, again, a diamond, and these precious rings were often given in fancy jewelry boxes to the rich and the aristocratic households before the wedding of their eldest sons and daughters. Even now, many families in England have kept these diamond engagement rings as family heirlooms.
6. 20th Century
A hundred years ago, the world was being torn apart because of the two World Wars. Thus, the economy was at an all-time low, and people did not have enough money to indulge in romantic luxuries such as engagement rings. But once the World Wars were settled and the economy returned, diamond engagement rings became the standard. In 1947, De Beers launched its “A Diamond is Forever” advertising campaign, which solidified the diamond as the ultimate symbol of love and commitment. Engagement rings became more expensive and elaborate during this time, and white gold and platinum also stole some of the spotlights.
7. Modern Times
Today’s world is all about showing off on social media, which has played a giant role in popularizing engagement rings before every wedding. Thanks to the skills of the craftsmen, the engagement rings are more diverse and ornate than ever before. While diamonds are still the most popular choice, other precious stones, such as emeralds and sapphires, are becoming more common. Alternative metals, such as titanium and tungsten, are also gaining popularity. Many couples now opt for more unique and personalized designs for their engagement rings.
In conclusion, the history of engagement rings is a fascinating journey through time. From ancient Egypt to modern times, engagement rings have been a symbol of love and commitment. Whether made of woven reeds or iron or adorned with gemstones and diamonds, engagement rings have always held a special place in the hearts of couples worldwide.
And as we move forward, the tradition continues to evolve, with couples choosing to express their love in new and unique ways, such as classical rings or custom-made designs. Regardless of the changes, engagement rings will always remain a timeless symbol of love and commitment.