Diamond engagement rings grew in popularity over the 19th century, but did not become the norm until De Beers’ launched their “Diamond is Forever” campagne (by Frances Gerety) in the mid 1940’s. Today a diamond engagement ring is still the most common choice, however many couples now opt for unique styles, vintage pieces, rough diamonds, or non traditional stones. Other couples are interested in more eco friendly options including lab grown diamonds and moissanites, or recycled diamonds. Some women decide to forgo the engagement ring all together, while some men now choose to wear engagement rings along with their partners. Historically this is such an interesting time since people have started creating their own traditions
It has been intrigued by the history and symbolism behind jewelry for even longer than I have been making it. Rings in particular are loaded with significance. Since ancient Egypt rings have been know to be the most intimate pieces that we wear. Throughout history rings were used as personal talismans, in business transactions, as symbols of status, and of course to pledge your love to another. The story of the wedding ring does not have one clear path; it changes with each religion and country’s view of marriage. Some rings strictly marked the legal contract of marriage, while others were clearly crafted in the name of true love. But this shift isn’t chronological like we might expect, instead it ebbs and flows in different times and different places.
As time went on the Romans began personalizing wedding rings, shifting from the fede to carvings of the couples themselves. This carried over to the Byzantine Empire in the Middle Ages when most rings were carved with the faces or full figure of the betrothed couple. Once Christianity became the Empire’s official religion the couple was often depicted with Jesus or a cross between them, blessing their marriage.