The First Engagement Ring

The First Engagement Ring

Engagement Ring History.

In this day and age in western society it is the norm for a gentleman to present a lady with an engagement ring at the time of proposal considering of course if she responds positively to the proposal in the first place. This has been the time honored tradition for many generations and the routs of this tradition may be traced back many centuries.

Historians believe that the practice of presenting a lady with a ring might even date back to Roman times when it is believed that roman wives wore rings with small keys attached indicating their husbands ownership !!! Try getting away with that today fellas.

Modern Day Engagement Rings

More recently though in 1477 Archduke Maximillian of Austria commissioned what is believed to be the modernday(ish) very first diamond engagement ring for his darling Fiancee, Mary of Burgundy. The news of this presentation sparked the chattering nobility conversations and the diamond ring engagement ring became somewhat fashionable among said nobility and indeed aristocracy. Due to the rarity of diamonds at this time many of the nobility and people of lesser means switched the diamond for other gemstones and the popularity of the engagement ring spread rapidly across Europe.

Victorian Engagement Rings

The Victorian and Edwardian era really cemented the engagement ring as a stable of couples due to be wed and they also experimented quite wildly with various gemstones such as diamond, sapphire and ruby and settings including white gold, platinum, rose gold and with various new styles often including halos and filigree settings.

In most countries the engagement ring is placed on the ‘ring’ finger  which is the finger next to the little finger and in most countries it is the one on the left hand. People once thought that this finger contained a vein that led to the heart and was called the vena amoris – or vein of love.

The discovery of diamond mines in 1870 totally shifted the market for gemstones and brought a vast increase in the number and price of diamonds available worldwide. The Debeers company was the sole owner of these diamond mines in South Africa and they tightly controlled the distribution and sales of the stones worldwide.

Debeers Diamonds

Across the water when recession hit the U.S and diamond sales declined worldwide Debeers created a creative and what may be deemed as aggressive marketing campaign to try and regain sales to a market in decline. Debeers used new techniques including movie stars and glamorous pictures of starlets dripping in diamonds and Jewels. Debeers also educated the public on the 4c’s of a diamond and seared into the minds of people that the diamond really was the only choice for an engagement ring.

The marketing worked and sales increased by over 50% in a couple of years but more importantly the campaign etched into the minds of the public the luxury and beauty of the diamond as being the number one gem.   1947 was the year that Debeers again captivated the market with its new but now classic slogan “Diamonds are forever”.  This marketing slogan rang around the world and instilled in people the thought that like a diamond which is durable and everlasting so too should a marriage be i.e marriage is forever.  Now all around the world the diamonds sparkle and brilliance as well as expense has become a symbol of mans commitment to a woman. Marketing and sales was not considered at the time of the first engagement ring.

Debeers Diamonds

Traditional Diamonds

Traditionally the diamonds used in an engagement ring were always round brilliant shape which consists of 58 facets and which has withstood the test of time.  It is because of the shape and the way the diamond is cut that the round brilliant maximises brilliance, fire and scintillation.  Other popular shapes include the princess cut, the emerald cut, pear cuts, oval cuts, asscher cuts and the ever increasingly popular cushion cut.

In the recent past the typical scenario was for a groom to privately select and purchase an engagement ring which he would after descending onto one knee use when proposing to an unsuspecting quivering lady to then with either tear filled doey eyes squeal out a “yes”or perhaps if the gentleman was less lucky burst into tears of laughter and ask “are you serious”…… “God no”.

Even though this is still to this day a very popular way of doing things and of course if it was good enough for your father and your grandpappy before him why wouldn’t it be good enough for you. Things have changed a lot since the first engagement ring was presented.

An alternative in these times is for couples to select an engagement ring together. Often a couple will make an appointment together to attend a appointment and to be guided by a professional on what is most desired by the lady and what is most practical for her lifestyle.

Another alternative is for a gentleman to propose with a token ring and after the offer is accepted the couples then attend a jeweller together to choose a ring together.

How Much To Spend On An Engagement Ring

The amount of money a man should spend on a ring has increased and decreased over the years. Through its marketing campaign De Beers again used advertising to encourage different amounts to be spent in different decades. In the 30’s they suggested that a man should spend one month’s salary on a ring but when times got better and more money was in circulation the quickly increased the amount to 2 months salary and then 3.  We advise for you to only spend what is practical and do not over extend yourself into something you may regret.

For more advice on how to plan an engagement or choose a wedding ring please read some of our other blogs or make contact for an appointment.

Contact Loyes Diamonds Today

Contact Loyes Diamonds of Dublin today to book an appointment. With absolutely no obligation to purchase. In the privacy of our office we will spend time showing you over 300 beautiful engagement rings. We endeavor to help you find the perfect ring.

We also offer a bespoke engagement ring service allowing you to create the perfect ring.

For more information or to book an appointment with absolutely no obligation to purchase please contact us today.

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