Engagement Ring Origin
Congratulations! You’ve met the person of your dreams, the one you want to spend the rest of your days with. Now all you have to do is get down on one knee and propose. If we were to believe Hollywood movies, a marriage proposal marks the beginning of a healthy new relationship. It represents the start of a lawful relationship in the eyes of society, God, and the families of the two individuals.
More importantly, the idea of an extravagant proposal and the act of “popping the question” if the movies were to be believed, preferably in front of a thousand people, is the one wish that many women have internalized. This makes an engagement an indispensable part for the starting of any serious relationship. It is what’s considered to be the “normal” way that two people make the decision to spend the rest of their lives together in the union of marriage. Many people view the engagement as the beginning of a partnership between two adults who have decided to live their lives as a team. In this case, the engagement sets the tone and gets things started.
The process begins with the proposal and ends with the wedding, but when did all the pomp and show start?
The Origins of Marriage
To get an idea of the engagement ring, we must first find out where marriage began. The concept of marriage started during the Stone Age, where it was used to build alliances and organize communities by pairing them up. This had multiple benefits for the community. Not only did it transform strangers into relatives, it allowed people to build far off networks that were spread across geographic locations. With time, marriage evolved from a basic need to an economic one, and in many cases a political transaction.
During the 18thcentury, this social norm began to shift once again. This time, people were encouraged to choose their partners based on mutual love and affection. The change in the concept of marriage was revolutionary, and by the 19thcentury, almost every European and American had adopted the idea of homemaking based on personal affection rather than economic or political gain. Marriage was considered as the best gift that any man could give a woman, which become a starting point of new life and new happiness. For the woman, finding the right mate gave them a sense of purpose and pride. Traditionally, the marriage proposal was set according to the ability of a man to provide for his partner and not the other way around. The sad part is that women were considered to be too emotional to make a good decision when it came to choosing a life partner: the choice has been done oftenly on their behalf. Eventually, people moved away from treating women as property, they left behind “arranged marriages” and along with that came new understanding of marriage – the “love marriage.”
Enter the Diamond
The year was 1477 and the archduke Maximillian of Austria, a true romantic by reputation, presented the first ever diamond ring to his bride-to-be. The archduke presented his spouse-to-be with an engagement ring upon her acceptance of his proposal. The bride was Mary of Burgundy. While the tradition of wearing an engagement ring is said to be from Egyptian and Roman times, this was the first time a diamond ring was presented to a bride during a proposal. This sparked a trend that swept throughout Europe and America and soon became a tradition that was practiced beyond the aristocracy of the time.
During the 21stcentury, jewelers began marketing the engagement ring as a “management ring” and if the typical groom could afford it, it was given to the precious future wife-to-be bride during the proposal. In the United States, an engagement ring is considered to be a condition gift, evidencing a marriage, while in England, it is seen as an absolute gift, which means that it is not required to be returned by the bride if the engagement is called off. In terms of legislation, it has been considered a property, which can be divided in case of divorce.
In 1947, De Beers was the first to launch its classic slogan, “A Diamond Is Forever.” This was the introduction of the diamond engagement ring to the world. De Beers practically gave lectures at high schools to young girls telling them the importance of the ring as a symbol of marriage. The campaign worked and resulted in more sales than the company had ever experienced before. Between 1939 and 1979, De Beers’s diamond sales rose to a whopping $2.1 billion in the US alone, which was incredible considering this was during the time of the Great Depression in the US. The idea behind the De Beers slogan was that a diamond signifies durability and stability, which seemed to have gone in the psyche of people who were looking to join in holy matrimony and be in a marriage forever.
Nowadays, the symbolism of a diamond engagement ring has changed slightly, but it still holds sway on other common traditions. For example, today, a diamond’s luster symbolizes the depth of a person’s commitment to their partner, and more importantly, to the person he loves. The tradition has now spread to all parts of the world, where different cultures have their own unique traditions that involve the use of a glittering engagement ring.
It is without a doubt that a diamond engagement ring is still used to signify the union of marriage and deep commitment, which two individuals have for one another. It’s a positive statistics that nearly 90% of American brides get a ring- it became a deep tradition for each and any of the groom to present a ring. In the West, an engagement ring is usually worn by the woman and is removed just before the wedding ceremony, where it is replaced with the wedding ring. After the wedding ceremony is over, the engagement ring is either put back on or is worn alongside the wedding ring, or on the opposite hand. Generally, both rings soldered together on the same finger after the wedding ceremony, showing bride’s status and relation to her.
An experience showed, that an engagement ring often is not presented before the marriage: couple need to check their relationships before groom will be ready to give the ring. It is mostly connected with the precious, expensive rings, which designed particularly for his bride, taking into account her personality and symbolizing not just deep love and respect, but showing that this person means “the world” for other one.