When did engagement rings become a thing?

Apr 13, 2016
When did engagement rings become a thing?

Circa 2800 BC – Love flows through the heart

Egyptians were buried with gold rings on their fourth finger of the left hand (believed to be connected directly to the heart by the vena amoris).

2nd Century BC – A legally binding love affair

Brides wear a gold ring in public, but an iron one at home to symbolize their husbands legally binding ownership over them.

1st Century BC – Don’t you play tricks!

In Asia, puzzle rings were used to tag multiple wives of wealthy men. To prevent infidelity, puzzle rings were designed to collapse when removed, and could only be pieced back together by skilled craftsman. Don’t remove the ring during the day while master is away!

1477 – Let your diamond shine

This whole time we thought DeBeers was the trendsetter! Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposes marriage to Mary of Burgundy with the first ever diamond engagement ring. But it wasn’t any ordinary solitaire! Mary’s ring had thin, flat pieces of diamond to form the letter “M” for her name. Sounds a lot more romantic than a puzzle ring!

1700s – Pocket full of “poesies” or thimbles?

Would you rather be given a silver ring full of sweet sayings, or a thimble? Poesy rings (known for their “flowery” sayings) were trendy in Europe, but Puritans stuck to giving thimbles (get to sewing ladies!). Eventually, more and more couples began slicing the tops of thimbles off to be worn as rings. I guess women really like jewelry, huh?

1800’s – Victorian Romance

Known to be highly sentimental, this generation of lovebirds was known to use colorful gems alongside diamonds to spell out sweet nicknames like “Dearest” or “Mizpah”. A love for natural beauty in the form of floral designs and leafy motifs added great detail to engagement rings of this time period, and all fine jewels were popular.

1901 to 1910 – Edwardian Validation

Simple designs like solitaires came into popularity, but not out of pure romance or affection. Rings were used as a way for a groom to demonstrate to a woman’s family that he could financially support her.

Often recognized for their use of white metals (like platinum), engagement rings of this era were often light, delicate, and airy in design.

Rings have since remained a symbol of status and wealth, although more recently less emphasis has been placed on socio-economic symbols. Cha-ching!

Charles & Colvard’s Moissanite.com has a wide range of jewelry that holds true to original Edwardian design and leans towards the Art Deco era ahead. From their Estate Collection to their designer Venazia™ Collection, you’re sure to find something you love.

The Lonette wedding set by Venazia™ is one of our personal Edwardian-inspired favorites, with both modern and historical design aesthetic.

1920’s – Art Deco Indulgence

Extravagance is key! Known as the art deco era, geometric patterns and luxurious detailing were at their peak. Think of Great Gatsby style.

Heidi Gibson is a modern day jewelry designer who finds her inspiration in just that. The Gatsby” ring is one of her original and most iconic designs among her collections.

The Gatsby by Heidi Gibson

The Gatsby by Heidi Gibson

1930’s to 1940’s – A rollercoaster of times

The flamboyant fashion trends of the 1920s lingered on, but as the Great Depression hit others opted for simple ring designs. This era has an eclectic variation of popular engagement ring styles; from Victorian and Edwardian styles to Art Deco designs, and simple rings as plain as they can get.

J Hollywood’s Designs offers an array that you might find back in 1930. From simple hammered bands to extravagant designs faceted with an array of gemstones.

J Hollywood Designs

J Hollywood Designs hammered archer wedding bands and custom moissanite engagement ring

1950’s – Diamonds are forever… not so fast.

Now DeBeers starts making their mark in engagement ring history with their iconic marketing campaign, “a diamond is forever”. Let World War II die down and a new rush begins as couples race to get their hands on the most expensive and elaborate designs featuring mined diamonds from halfway across the world.

Natural inspiration takes hold with organic floral and insect motifs, braids, and twisting designs only to be matched with large center stones and clusters of fine jewels.

Fire & Brilliance grab some inspiration from this era in their numerous designs, adding a touch of modern ingenuity with the use of lab-created and socially conscious gemstones like moissanite.

 

fireandbrilliance

Fire and Brilliance Engagement Rings, from left to right: Halo Split Shank Ring, Moissanite Filigree Ring

 

1960’s – Balanced and Full of Peace

Like the fashion of the time, bright colors and eye-catching patterns were incorporated into engagement ring designs. Although the details were more striking, most rings stayed relatively simple. Solitaires and small three stone designs were the most popular, using yellow gold and various colored gemstones to offset the look.

This simple solitaire ring by Vena Amoris features a round brilliant moissanite center stone set in rose gold. This ring would have been a dream come true for any earth-loving flower child of the 1960’s.

1970’s – Cluster Together and Hold Hands

The flower child movement grew stronger and actual flower-like cluster rings started to make a movement of their own. Elaborate cluster rings were a must-have for engagement in the ‘70s.

“The Fazio” cluster halo ring from Moissanite.com speaks to the era with its bold detailing and large cluster of colorless gems.

The Fazio cluster engagement ring from Moissanite.com

The Fazio cluster engagement ring from Moissanite.com

1980’s – Go-Go Crazy

Big is better in the ‘80s. Hair has 4 times the volume and so do engagement rings. A love of large center stones and a return to color give this era a loud but totally gorgeous look.

Check out this big and beautiful three stone ring from Bel Viaggio! Featuring a huge 4.20ct oval Forever Brilliant® moissanite center stone, paired with two pear cut Chatham Sapphires, this ring is a modern take on a 1980s classic.

1990’s – Solitaires return with a vengeance

I’m sure most of us can remember all the diamond ads on television 20 years ago. They featured large solitaire rings, with all sorts of names to set them apart and hopefully give them their own chance to shine in our minds.

With emphasis placed on the 4 C’s of diamond buying, every girl’s dream was to have a large gem of the best quality – nothing more and nothing less.

If you are in the market for a solitaire engagement ring, but want to add some detailing to make yours unique, DeBebians is a great place to get started. Offering Charles & Colvard Created Moissanite® center stones in all of their diamond ring settings, you can save some extra money and get twice the sparkle!

2000’s – A fantasyland where dreams come true

Ah, finally… home safe! The 2000s have taken on a life of their own when it comes to engagement ring trends.

Every era before ours is still very much adored, with modern designers still drawing inspiration from historical classics. But, other designers are creating never-before-seen looks. Rings with an organic or handcrafted vibe are growing in popularity.

Take for instance Kristin Coffin’s designs, with settings that feature whimsical branches and raw industrial age detailing.

kristincoffin

Kristin Coffin twig engagement rings, from left to right: four-prong solitaire, bezel set solitaire

Nangijala Jewerly may be setting trends for the future, while drawing inspiration from the arts and crafts of the past. Artisan techniques make each piece a sculptured work of art, reflecting their individuality, and organic nature.

No longer bound by the fabricated cultural norm of diamonds, jewelers are going back to their roots with alternative gemstones, fine jewels, and recycled metals for both classic and ultra-modern designs.

Think you know what the next engagement ring fad will be? Tell us on social media!

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