A symbol of eternal love – a promise to marry – the engagement ring is a classic of a tradition that dates back to ancient times. Now the standard, diamond engagement rings were not always the go-to gift for brides-to-be. Read along to trace the origins of this thousand-year old custom.
Engagement Rings From Ancient Egypt
Some of the earliest examples of engagement rings come from ancient Egypt, where – according to renowned jeweler Harry Winston – a circular shape appeared to represent an eternal cycle. “It was worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, where it was believed there was a vein that led straight to the heart, beginning a custom that continues today across many cultures.”
Diamond Engagement Rings From Medieval Times
According to the American Gem Society, Archduke Maximillian of Austria bestowed a diamond ring upon Mary of Burgundy, his betrothed. The ring was specially created for the occasion and, apparently as the first diamond engagement ring, supposedly sparked a trend for diamond rings amongst Europe’s aristocracy and royalty.
Industrial Age and Turn of the Century
Throughout the 1800s and 1900s, the creation of engagement rings saw ornate craftsmanship and the mixing of gemstones, precious metals and enamels. Still popular today, some of the intricate designs popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras remain a continuing trend in the rings on the market today.
20th Century to Today
International diamond corporation De Beers Group coined its iconic slogan, “A Diamond is Forever” in 1947, a marketing strategy that promoted the gemstone as not only a marketable commodity, but an inherent symbol of engagement and marriage. De Beers’ campaign created an inseparable bond between diamonds and romance and all but made the diamond ring a prerequisite for commitment.
Whether you are looking to purchase a diamond engagement ring or have a wedding set you wish to make a collateral loan against, the GIA-trained staff at Chicago Loan Company are available to assist you. Drop by the offices located in the iconic Heyworth building to browse fine jewelry and watches at dealer prices or call to discuss our concierge lending services with a loan officer at 312-236-2929.