How Did Engagement Rings Come to Be?
An engagement ring is likely to be the most important piece of jewelry you will ever give or receive. Once you say yes and slip that ring on, you will likely realize it is more than another piece of jewelry. Your engagement ring is a symbol— a promise of love and commitment between two people. Its roots dig deep into the history of humankind.
The practice of wearing a symbol to mark the bond between two people can be traced back as far as the pre-historic era, when cavemen fastened adornments of braided grass around their mates. Although these objects looked much different than the diamond engagement rings we’re familiar with today, it is a vague premonition of the traditions to come and it set in motion a practice that would influence culture throughout the ages.For centuries, ancient Egyptians believed that the third finger on the left hand was directly connected to the heart by a vein that ran between the two. This meant that it carried with it a great deal of significance in the realm of life and love. They were often buried with a gold wire tied around this finger. Today, it is known as the ‘ring finger’. Here we see the humble beginnings of the modern day golden ring and it’s relationship to a very special place on the human hand.
Fast forward to 1477 and we have the first documented instance of a diamond ring gifted as a symbol of betrothal by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy. And just like that, the engagement ring comes to life. Jewel studded rings gain popularity amongst the wealthy and become a staple of European fashion.
In 1867, diamonds are discovered in South Africa and Cecil Rhodes founds the DeBeers Mining Company, setting the stage for the triumphant rise of the diamond as the premiere symbol for a marriage proposal. It’s not long before the undeniable beauty of the diamond ring becomes a far-reaching symbol of the wonder of life long love.
Hollywood stars and popular culture embraces the diamond engagement ring. With the availability of these precious stones on the rise, affordable rings make their way to the pages of Sears & Roebuck’s mail-order catalog, extending the reach of the diamond ring to the masses. The rest is just history in the making.
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