More and more brides are choosing their own engagement rings. Either because they want to have a say in the piece of jewellery they will hopefully wear forever, or maybe it is because he doesn’t want the responsibility. I guess there is also the third option when the proposal takes them both by surprise!
So whilst few of us would ever complain about ‘having’ to wear a gorgeous piece of jewellery, what is the history behind the engagement ring?
It has always been, as it is today, a betrothal gift by a man to his prospective wife. The quality of the material has always been a sign of his wealth and status in society, and we wear it on the fourth finger of our left hand, as it was thought to have a vein that leads to the heart (vena amoris). But how comes an engagement ring tends to be a diamond… or if you are lucky, diamonds!
The first recorded use of a diamond engagement ring was in 1477 by Archduke Maximilian of Austria who proposed to Mary of Burgandy with a ring that was set with thin, flat prieces of diamonds in the shape of a ‘M’.
However, for context, up until the late 19th Century, engagement rings for the most came in the form of a sewing thimble. The women would take off the tops, to make a ring they could wear. How lucky we are!
In 1867 diamonds were found in Cape Colony (now a province in South Africa). Up until then diamonds were a rarity, often only seen on the hand of a monarch. The market became saturated and there was a risk that diamonds would be seen as too available.
De Beers, the largest owner of rough diamonds, sought the help of marketing agency N.W Ayer to help them convince people that diamonds equalled love. And so came the marketing slogan ‘A diamond is forever’ which they still use today. This was supported by various campaigns that encouraged men to show their love by spending, initially one week’s wage on a ring, then a month and now two month’s salary on the engagement ring. Who knew, that in large, the reason why we get to receive and wear gorgeous diamonds, is because of a marketing campaign!
So now the fun part, if you are choosing your own engagement ring and need inspiration, or maybe you would just like to take some time out to swoon over some gorgeous engagement rings, here are our top three.Grays Antiques, Price on enquiry Joule, £1,300 Lucie Campbell, £6,950,
Grays Antiques, £1,450
We have also created a board on Pinterest of lovely engagement rings available in the UK. We have even added the prices to all of them so you can either be realistic, or enjoy the game of working out which one is the cheapest (£1,217) and which one is the most expensive (£12,600).
Let us know how you do.
Handmade Weddings is all about gorgeous accessories and regular blogging about all the things to consider when planning your wedding. If you have a question about weddings, why not get in touch and we will do our best to feature on our blog.by