History of the Engagement Ring
The history of giving an engagement ring can be traced as far back as ancient Rome. In the second century BC, the Roman bride-to-be was given two rings, a gold one which she wore in public, and one made of iron which she wore at home while attending to household duties.
In 860 AD, Pope Nicholas I wrote a letter to Boris I of Bulgaria in reply to questions regarding differences between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox practices. He described how in the Western church the man gives his betrothed an engagement ring.
The first known use of a diamond ring to signify an engagement was by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria when he was betrothed to Mary of Burgundy in the 15th century.
Diamonds were discovered in South Africa in 1866, making them more readily available to the general public and no longer the purview of only aristocrats and the wealthy.
In the United States, the popularity of diamond engagement rings declined after World War I leading up to the Great Depression. In 1938, the diamond cartel De Beers began a marketing campaign to educate the public about diamonds and made familiar the slogan "a diamond is forever". The De Beers campaign persuaded consumers that an engagement ring was a necessity and that a diamond was the stone for an engagement ring.
Today couples have many choices for an engagement ring. While there are many beautiful rings being designed in contemporary styles, antique rings offer a way for couple to express their personal style—with and without diamonds. From Victorian rings to Edwardian styles set in platinum, to shimmering and bold Art Deco designs, a couple has many beautiful and unique rings to choose from.