The History of the Diamond Engagement Ring Tradition

The idea of giving a ring to symbolize love and commitment has a long history. But today’s modern engagement ring tradition actually doesn’t date back as far as you might think.  Read on to learn a bit more about engagement rings through history, and the how the tradition of giving diamond rings developed.

Engagement rings have been given all the way back to the days of ancient Rome.  During these times, though, the rings were simple circular bands.  There were typically no gemstones adorning them, and they were typically made of iron or gold, depending on how wealthy the couple was. The unbroken circle symbolized the eternity and perfection of love.

Even though diamonds were discovered in India over 2 millennia ago, it wasn’t until the 15th century that they started to appear in engagement rings.  Even then, it was only in rings worn by the very wealthy.  During the 18th century, more diamond deposits were discovered, and diamonds grew in popularity in all jewelry, including engagement rings.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that diamond engagement rings really became an integral part of our tradition.  This is due in large part to the efforts of the diamond company called De Beers.  Not only did their marketing tactics create a tightly controlled market, their ad campaigns also created the idea that diamonds are so closely associated with romance.  With ads showing the glamor of wearing diamond engagement rings, and with highly effective marketing slogans, such as “Diamonds are forever,” this company is largely responsible for the fact that today, nearly 80% of women own some kind of diamond jewelry.

Today, styles of diamond engagement rings range from elaborate and glamorous rings to simpler and more streamlined bezel set engagement rings.  Even people who can’t afford diamonds often opt for cubic zirconia engagement rings, which look nearly the same.  Although engagement rings have a long tradition, it’s interesting to know that diamond engagement rings only came on the scene relatively recently.