Engagement Rings throughout History

Engagement rings have special significance regardless of what part of the country you live in, whether in Perry Hall, MD or Tacoma, WA. Today, classic engagement rings are easily recognizable as a diamond solitaire worn on the third finger of the left hand. Engagement rings signifying betrothal are a custom going back centuries across many different cultures. While the custom of giving and wearing a ring to signify betrothal is an ancient one, the actual style of engagement rings has evolved greatly over the millennia.

Rings have been used to symbolize love for centuries simply because of their shape. The circular shape of engagement rings symbolizes eternity: a continuous circle conveying eternal love, eternal commitment, and eternal happiness and togetherness. The third finger of the left hand has been used to signify betrothal and love and affection because of a vein that connects that particular finger directly to the heart.

The ancient Greeks may have been the first civilization to award engagement rings to signify betrothal. These rings were intended to signify affection and love and were given to women prior to marriage. However, these rings were not always seen as a signifier of betrothal and were sometimes exchanged merely as a sign of friendship and affection. The ancient Romans, on the other hand, awarded rings inscribed with keys as a sign that women had access to half of personal property acquired through marriage.

The use of diamond engagement rings to signify betrothal was not used until Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring, accompanied by a marriage proposal, in the 15th Century. This spurred a trend among royalty and titled people in Europe to gift gemmed rings to their betrothed. This practice remained an exclusive tradition of the wealthy until the mid-1800s when diamond mines were opened in Africa and such gems became accessible to the middle classes.

Couples shopping for engagement rings in Perry Hall, MD have a multitude of different designs and options to choose from. Engagement rings, like everything, have undergone several trends in style. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, colored stones were popular in engagement rings. The solitaire ring did not enter popularity until the nineteenth century. This was followed by the “princess” ring in the 20th century, featuring several diamonds surrounding around a focal stone. Platinum also became a popular material in engagement rings around this time due to its strength and beauty. During World War II, platinum was reserved for use by the military, and ring settings returned to silver and gold.

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