HISTORY OF ENGAGEMENT RINGS
you love the style of antique engagement rings, click here to view
practice of sealing the marriage contract with a ring is a time-honored
tradition, dating back to ancient times. The predecessor to today's
engagement rings, however, wouldn't have turned many heads: a simple
iron hoop was de rigeur in early Roman times, followed by a plain
gold band some centuries later. The significance of the ring was
its symbolism, with its circular shape an abstract representation
were first discovered in India around 800 B.C., and were prized
by cultures throughout the world for their beauty and rarity; many
believed them to possess magical powers. Early societies were particularly
impressed with the hardness of diamond; the name diamond comes from
the Greek word "adamas," meaning unconquerable. Such an attribute
made it the perfect choice to represent the marriage bond.
it was the 15th century before brides-to-be could look forward to
a little sparkle on their ring fingers; and then, only if they were
among the royalty, or very wealthy. The first recorded incidence
of a diamond engagement ring was that given to Mary of Burgundy
by the Archduke Maximilian of Hamburg in 1477.
Renaissance era engagement rings were set with a single diamond
in its natural crystalline form. Others had multiple diamonds set
in rosettes, letters, or fleur-de-lys. Little love messages, or
posies, were often inscribed inside the rings. Popular sixteenth
and seventeenth century wedding ring styles included the gimmel
ring, made of two hoops that slid together into one ring when shut;
and the fede ring (Italian for "faith'), consisting of two clasped
hands, sometimes holding a rose-cut diamond heart.
the eighteenth century, the discovery of diamonds in Brazil increased
the available supply; diamond jewelry became quite fashionable,
sparkling in the candlelight at evening balls and social events.
Engagement rings from this time are charming and romantic, with
diamond-set crowned hearts, bows and sprays of flowers.
wealth generated by the Industrial Revolution, coupled with newly
discovered diamond mines in Africa, made diamonds available to the
wider public in the Victorian age. Sentimental themes remained popular;
larger clusters and bands of diamonds were also favored. Queen Victoria
chose a snake ring, whose coils symbolized eternity, to mark her
engagement. In 1886, Tiffany introduced the six-prong solitaire
diamond engagement ring.
antique engagement rings available today are primarily those from
the first half of the twentieth century. White gold and platinum
filigree rings were popular from the turn of the century through
the twenties; the intricate, lace-like detail loved by Edwardian
era ladies still holds a special appeal for women today. Platinum
and diamond Art Deco rings often featured geometric shapes and colored
accent stones (ruby, sapphire, or emerald). Both yellow and white
gold, often in combination, were common for engagement rings in
the thirties and forties. Small side diamonds, and delicately-carved
hearts, flowers, and leaves, gave these rings a romantic charm ideal
for the occasion. Square-shaped and "illusion" settings beautifully
showcased the center diamonds.
ring styles of recent decades have shown a great deal of variety,
in form, detail, and shape of the center diamond. The engagement
ring worn by a woman today-whether classic, contemporary, or antique
style-is now, more than ever, a reflection of her personal taste