Engagement rings have become a symbol of love and marriage between two people- but have
you ever wondered how we came to use them? It seems so engrained in our North American
culture that we don’t actually know how the tradition came about. Especially the reasoning why
engagement rings are set with diamonds and precious stones. Let us explain how meaningful
these tokens of love truly are.
History of Engagement Rings
It has been said that the custom of wearing a ring began in ancient Egypt, where grooms would
fashion a ring because the circular shape symbolizes eternity. This tradition has been adapted
throughout the world, but the ring was always worn on the left hand on the ring finger because it
was said to contain the vena amoris, a mythological vein that lead directly to the heart.
Throughout history, and as mining and metal technologies evolved, rings were made out of iron
and steel. In ancient Rome, the woman would wear a gold ring in public, and an iron one at
home while she was attending to household duties. Going to show that the aesthetic of a
wedding ring has always been at the forefront of it’s purpose.
Where things really got interesting was when diamonds were found in south Africa in 1866.
Wedding rings with diamonds were still only considered to be something that was worn by the
aristocracy. But diamond production was at an all time high and people with lesser means were
able to participate in this economy as well.
It wasn’t until after the second world war and the great depression that wedding rings with
diamonds were popular amongst all couples again. With a thanks to a marketing campaign by
DeBeers that said A diamond is forever the standard of a diamond ring as being the only type of
ring that is acceptable to be given at the time of proposal. It was suggested that men were
expected to pay two months salary on the ring as a benchmark.
How Engagement Rings Look Today?
As the tradition has progressed within society, North Americans usually purchase an
engagement ring before the proposal, and it is still traditionally set with a diamond. However
more and more retailers and custom jewelry designers are branching out and using other
precious gemstones to set the ring with. But statistics still show that regardless of the popularity
of precious stones in engagement rings, diamonds are still favoured by 80%. Fun fact,
engagement rings for men are very popular in places in Europe and are called management
All in all, engagement rings have become a cornerstone of our society as a symbol of love and
matrimony- and the tradition is not going anywhere. Instead the tradition has evolved depending
on where you live in the world, and they have become more flexible based on your own belief
system. However, statistics show that Americans spend around $4000 on an engagement ring,
which seems like a lot of money but it is something that carries with it ancient tradition and
sentimental meaning that is meant to last a lifetime.