The History of the Engagement Ring
The origins of the engagement ring dates back as far as the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Each civilization had their own symbolism surrounding the meaning of the rings.
The Romans used iron rings symbolizing strength and permanence, where the Greeks believed the ring should be worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. They believed this was where the vein of love was connected to the heart.
Betrothal Engagement Ring
Though not particularly romantic, the rings symbolized a woman’s connection to a man who would eventually become her husband. The arrangements were more business oriented then romantically involved. So much for ancient love!
The Age of the Popes
Pope Nicolas I, during the 9th Century, backed the idea that an engagement ring made of gold metal demonstrated the groom’s wealth and ability to care for his wife.
In 1215, Pope Innocent III declared rings could be made of various metals including silver and iron. These rings were to be worn if engagements were going to be quite long.
The Variety of the Engagement Ring
Throughout history, engagement rings came in just about everything from leather to plants or various other materials. The symbolism behind these materials was the union of a man and a woman and the land that would sustain them. With the passing of time, metals were eventually used for a more elegant appearance. Gemstones were eventually incorporated into the designs including birthstones. Birthstones would represent them as a couple by using both party’s birthstone.
Diamonds were not often used because they were very rare and, if available, were extremely expensive.
Mary of Burgundy – The First Diamond Engagement Ring
The engagement of Mary of Burgundy to Archduke Maximillian of Australia in 1477 was the first engagement ring that bore diamonds. Diamonds were considered a symbol of purity, fidelity and love and this symbol holds true today.
A Man’s Engagement Ring
This first became popular during World War II when couples were separated for great lengths of time. These rings were reminders of the loved one left behind. More recently, Michael Buble flashed a man-gagement ring when becoming engaged to his now wife, Luisana Lopilito.
History of the Engagement Ring in the United States
Simple engagement rings were very popular throughout the history of the United States. They were inexpensive and highly accessible for just about everyone. During the era of pioneers, most other rings would have been extremely expensive and out of reach for most people.
During the 1920s, art deco played a huge role in the design of engagement rings. With clean lines, modern symmetry and color contrasts, the engagement ring took on a new appearance.
Before World War II the platinum engagement ring came into being. Unfortunately, during the war, platinum was prohibited because the metal was needed by the military. Gold and silver rings were the choices of the time.
With the constant change in fashion and popular design, the engagement ring continues to evolve to new heights. One thing always seems to stay the same and that’s the exchanging of rings and communion of two people joined together.