Sunday, March 26, 2017

Engagement Rings Through the Ages

The first thing most people do,
is show off the bling.
I’m not an historian so can’t vouch for the authenticity of the following information, but it intrigued me and I hope it will you as well. It seems to me that the point of the Happily Ever After of romance novels is finding the person of your dreams and lots of us look forward to having a little bling on our finger. So I thought learning more about the origins of engagement rings was appropriate.

While diamonds have been a popular stone choice for your ring when your significant other pops the important question – and I don’t mean, ‘Why don’t you move in with me?’ – Diamonds weren’t always the first choice. So let’s take a little walk through history.

It wasn’t until the late 1400’s, during the Renaissance period, that it became fashionable to bestow a ring embellished with diamonds upon your betrothed.  That’s when in 1477 the Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a gold ring with the letter M spelled out in tiny diamonds. Prior to this time, if rings were given at all, they were fairly simple bands – gold if the man could afford it.

The Middle Ages kicked off the more structured engagement procedure when Pope Nicholas issued an edict in 860BC declaring that for an engagement to be recognized, the prospective groom had to give his intended a gold engagement ring. Not sure if the Pope was getting a kickback from the goldsmith’s guild but it’s interesting to speculate.

By the 1700’s couples in Europe often exchanged poesy or posie rings – silver or gold bands with romantic inscriptions inside.

In the Victorian era engagement rings were often designed to resemble hearts, hands, bows, flowers, and even snakes (which were seen as a symbol of eternity). The ring frequently had the date of the ceremony etched inside.

The Art Deco period of the early 1900’s – particularly in America – often featured tiny gems to create a large design, rather than one central big jewel. — and angular shapes were all the rage.

My husband and I went with the
less traditional look.
In the 1950’s De Beers, the diamond manufacturer, launched an advertising campaign that featured a solitary diamond as the height of engagement ring fashion. That campaign still continues to influence engagement ring purchases.   

If you want to explore images of engagement rings through history, I loved the images associated with this one from Antique Jewelry University.

To get ideas for non-diamond options for your engagement ring, this article in BuzzFeed has some
fantastic images.

Hopefully this peek into the past, will inspire you when it comes time to say 'yes' and may you find your happily ever after!


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