Nowadays, engagement rings are designed in an array of styles and stones. From diamonds and emeralds to round and opal cuts, there are so many options to represent a couple’s unique love. But did you know that the tradition of engagement rings began long before diamonds were mainstream? Once made with pearls and sapphires — and even coins — read on to learn about the history of engagement rings.
What Is an Engagement Ring?
Engagement rings symbolize a couple’s promise to get married. Traditionally, one partner proposes to the other with a beautiful ring. In many cultures, the engagement ring is a sign of your devotion to each other and represents a promise to marry in the future.
An engagement ring is typically worn on the left hand and placed on the second finger from the left. But there’s no right or wrong way to wear your engagement ring, so style it however you’d like!
The History of the Engagement Ring
When you think of an engagement ring, you may picture a classic ring made of gold or silver with a diamond solitaire—as seen in our Solitaire Diamond Ring—or, perhaps a ring with an elaborate cluster of diamonds—like our Miriam Diamond Pave Band. However, this wasn’t always the case. Here are a few facts about how this tradition formed in the first place.
1. In ancient times, engagement rings were exchanged by both Greeks and Romans.
While the Egyptians are sometimes credited with engagement rings, the trend is reliably traced back to the Romans. At this time, engagement rings were often made from iron, a material that symbolizes strength and courage. The Romans believed that those who wore the rings would remain virtuous.
2. A diamond ring was first presented as an engagement gift during the Renaissance.
In the imperial court in 1477, Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy. After this, those of higher class society gave diamond rings to their loved ones.
3. During the 20th century, diamond engagement rings soared after World War II.
A marketing campaign by De Beers educated and influenced Americans to purchase diamond engagement rings for their sweethearts. Before this campaign, diamond engagement rings were rare.
4. Today, engagement rings are made in a variety of silhouettes and materials.
While diamond engagement rings remain popular, stones such as sapphires and emeralds are trending alternatives. Princess Diana’s iconic sapphire ring, which Kate Middleton now wears, also inspired a resurgence in sapphire engagement rings.
Modern Engagement Traditions
Today, engagement rings are made in a variety of silhouettes and materials. While diamond engagement rings remain popular, stones such as sapphires and emeralds are trending alternatives.
Princess Diana’s iconic sapphire ring, which the Princess of Wales now wears, also inspired a resurgence in sapphire engagement rings. If you love the look of sapphires but want a more affordable choice, opt for a 14k gold solitaire ring in London Blue Topaz.
There are plenty of ways to be creative and unique when it comes to engagement rings. Whether you use a family heirloom as a base for your own custom design or opt for a one-of-a-kind setting, there are so many options to make an engagement ring your own.
How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?
On average, a one-carat diamond engagement ring costs around $5,500. This price will vary depending on where you live and the type of diamond and setting you choose. But you should spend the amount you and your partner are comfortable with.
You should choose an engagement ring your partner will love at a price point that’s reasonable to you. Diamonds are expensive, which is why some couples opt for alternative stones, such as white topaz, seen in our Charlotte Baguette Ring. White topaz is a beautiful, clear stone that has a sparkly appearance.
Are you looking for engagement ring inspiration or considering popping “the question” soon? Browse our collection of engagement rings to find the perfect piece for your sweetheart. And if you love the idea of a non-traditional engagement ring, read about our unique engagement rings to discover a piece that represents your style and love.