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Why Diamonds? The History of Engagement & Wedding Rings Explained

Who decided that diamonds were a girl’s best friend? And when did they
become the standard for engagement and wedding rings? Read on to find
out.

Diamonds entered the jewelry market in the late 19th century. Engagement rings were given prior to this but they did not always include gemstones. Egyptians would give silver or gold jewelry as a symbol of a taken woman. Asian styles were geared toward puzzle rings, and the Romans liked the look of iron.

All to say, engagement rings are not a new trend. Diamonds as the go-to stone however, is a relatively fresh concept.

Let’s take a look back at South African diamond mining at the end of the 17th century. The 1867 discovery of diamonds in Cape Colony played a big part in making diamonds accessible to the average person. South African quickly yielded more diamonds than India had in their 2,000 years of diamond mining.

Initially, diamonds were incredibly rare and expensive. But after the Cape Colony supply was discovered, the diamond market was flooded. Prices fell drastically as a result of supply increase. The marketing mission for diamond producers was to convince the world that diamonds were the ‘it’ stone for everyone. Prices were low enough for anyone to afford.

Moving into the 20th century, trends began to change. Gemstones became less popular, and diamond supplies were slowing up. The American market was prime for a new jewelry craze, and diamond sellers saw an opportunity.

The famous 1947 slogan ‘a diamond is forever’ had a massive impact. With diamonds as the new symbol for love, the engagement ring sector exploded with diamond sales. And by the 1950’s, an engagement ring without a diamond was considered lackluster.

Diamonds have remained a symbol of engagement or marriage to this day. Of course, many options have evolved beyond the traditional cut and clarity.