The customary practice of giving engagement rings started way back in the prehistoric times when cavemen tied cords around their mate’s waists, ankles, and wrists to take control of her spirit. Some remains of ancient Egyptians were also found wearing a silver or gold ring on the middle finger of their left hands. It was believed that the third finger is directly connected to the heart.
In the first century B.C., the sultans and sheiks in Asia used puzzle rings to tag every wife they have. The use of rush-ring in weddings began when a bishop of Salisbury ended the practice of using it to seduce women to a mock marriage. He declared that rush-rings shall be used to legally bind marriages.
The first use of diamond engagement rings was dated back in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a ring with M-shaped pieces of diamonds to Mary of Burgundy during a wedding proposal. Since then, wealthy people turned it into a practice.
In the 1700s, Europe made it popular to give “poesy rings” made of silver and engraved with verbose sayings. While the Puritans across the Atlantic Ocean used thimbles instead of rings to propose. Later on, many of the Puritans sliced the top off the thimbles and turned them into rings.
The beginning of the huge supply of diamonds started on the discovery of Cape Colony in South Africa. In 1880, Cecil Rhodes, together with other mining investors, opened the DeBeers Mining Company, which controlled ninety percent of the world’s diamond production ten years later.
The design of today’s engagement rings was inspired from “Tiffany setting”. In 1886, Tiffany & Co, introduced “Tiffany setting” as a six-prong ring with a diamond raised up from the band to maximize the gem’s brilliance. In the 1890s, Sears & Roebuck and other mail-order catalogs first presented the affordable wedding rings and diamond engagement rings.
In the Roman times, rituals called only for the blessing of the bride’s ring. Until a Catholic priest inquired The American Ecclesiastical Review in 1944 as to whether he can wed a couple in a “double ring”. The inquiry received a positive response, thus the beginning of grooms’ rings.
In the course of time, together with its popularity, the diamond industry was associated with a growing human rights violations. The World Diamond Council developed a system in 2000 to stop the use of diamonds in human exploitation.
Today, diamond engagement rings continue its vogue. According to a study in 2002, more than one-third of couples who buy diamond engagement rings spend at least two months of their salary.