The first memorable instance of an engagement ring is that of Archduke Maximilian of Austria. He made a ring with flat diamonds shaping an “M” for Mary of Burgundy. Romantic, right?
However, that wasn’t the first time an engagement ring had been used. Men would lure females in with fake rings of rush, and so these were declared a legally binding ring when given to a bride. Poesy rings were given in Europe during the 1700s, and Purtians would give thimbles. Not exciting, right?
Wait a moment: the first engagement ring was not made from rush. Cavemen used braided grass loops to ‘rein in’ their bride’s spirit. This was arguably done by putting the cords around the wrists, waist, and ankles of the bride.
Next up was the Egyptians. They believed the rings placed on their ring finger would connect the ring to their heart. This would have been done by the vena amoris, located nearby.
Pliny the Elder would follow up by describing his culture’s tradition. A gold ring for the ceremony is given to the bride, followed by an iron ring to wear at home. The gold ring is for special events, while iron was for everyday wear. This was supposed to signify the legally binding side of marriage: the man now owned the woman.
The next engagement ring tradition was puzzle rings. This were to mark wives and harams of sultans, sheiks, and other rulers in Asia. The idea is the same, though: marking the women as owned by the men.
Next up was the rush ring incident. This was stifled by the bishop of Salisbury. The Gutenberg bible comes out without mention of the rings. Then the famous ring from Archduke Maximilian and the poesy rings. The poesy rings had flowery sayings engraved in them – hence the name.
In 1873, Cecil Rhodes starts up a new diamond mine. This mine became the largest diamond producer and they produced ninety percent of diamonds at the time.
Shortly after, the six prong setting seen often today was invented. It’s known as the “Tiffany setting”, after Tiffany & Co. This leads into the bigger trends, such as the intertwined hoop ring popular in France.
Traditional engagement rings that are seen today became popular in the early 1940s. Few new trends started after this.
The tradition nowadays includes finding the biggest diamond the man can buy and hoping it’s big enough for his woman. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. However, it’s amazing how far the trend has come.