Diamond engagement rings are one of the most coveted pieces of jewelry on the planet – just watch any TV show or open a magazine, and you’ll see a glossy spread on the season’s latest collection of engagement rings and wedding bands. With the imagery of diamond engagement rings more popular than ever before, it’s easy to see why many people believe diamond engagement rings have been around for centuries.
But diamond engagement rings have only been a recent introduction to society, particularly in America. Let’s take a look at a brief history of diamond engagement rings and how they’ve evolved to what they are today.
The DeBeers Campaigns of the 1920s
While the exchanging of rings had always been a tradition dating back several centuries, diamond engagement rings weren’t introduced into mainstream society until the 18th century. Even then, these rings were only a hit among nobility – until the DeBeers advertisements of the 1920s changed all that.
These advertisements insisted that men had to spend at least two months’ salary on a diamond engagement ring. The ads ran so often (and women certainly enjoyed the consequences) that it started to become ingrained into popular culture. It also answered a crucial question that many potential grooms had previously struggled with: how much should be spent on a diamond engagement ring?
Breaches of Contract
Diamond engagement rings didn’t always have romantic notions attached to them. In fact, diamond engagement rings were often given as a contract, in which the women would be promised the ring should the man break off the engagement. While this is sometimes common practice today, this tradition had very sexiest roots. When a man and a woman became engaged, it was often assumed that the woman was a virgin. The proclivity for pre-marital sex often meant that the women was seen as “damaged” if the man broke off the engagement. Although it makes for a poor consolidation prize, the diamond engagement ring was meant to provide the woman with some sort of economic reparation.
Diamond Engagement Rings Today
In the 21st century, diamond engagement rings are as unique and beautiful as the women who receive them. Many women love the looks of traditional diamond rings, while others prefer more personalized and individual looks. Today, diamond engagement rings of all shapes and sizes can be found – and not all of them are meant for just women.
We hope you enjoyed this brief – yet revealing! – exploration into the history of the diamond engagement ring.