History of the Diamond Engagement Ring


Diamond Engagement Rings

It was not always the case that love-struck fiancés gave engagement rings to their betrothed to signify their wish to be together forever, let alone diamond rings, so have you ever considered why or when the tradition of giving and receiving diamond engagement rings began?

The Start of a Tradition

The first recorded incidence of a fiancé giving a diamond engagement ring was way back in 1477 when Archduke Maximillian of Hamburg gave one to Mary of Burgundy to signal their intention to marry. However, there are indications that rings were being exchanged for this purpose well before Maximillian's generous gift.

In 1215 Pope Innocent III declared that couples should wait longer before marriage, and this meant that people were more likely to swap promise bands to signify their intentions. These bands would have been of simple metals for most people, as most people could not afford anything grand or extravagant, no matter how great their love.

However, there is an interesting theory that dates back way before the 13th Century...

Dianne Khan, 1791 Diamonds, blogs, History of engagement rings

Prehistoric Engagement

Apparently, early man would capture his 'bride' and tie her legs and arms together so that she didn't escape! The ties would become loosened over time, and become fewer and fewer as she proved trustworthy, until eventually all that was left was a symbolic band of twine around one finger to signify that she was spoken for. Hmmm... personally, I'd prefer a diamond.

Diamonds Are Forever

Diamond engagement rings did not become all the rage until the 20th Century, when De Beers launched their post-war marketing campaign stating that "A Diamond is Forever". After that, their popularity grew and grew, and as income rose and more people could afford them, diamond engagement rings became the norm in many countries with an understanding that they should cost in the region of two months' salary. And of course, in 1953 the wonderful Marilyn Monroe famously sang "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" - cementing the idea that only a diamond would do!

Continuing and New Traditions

In the 21st Century it is becoming more and more popular for men to have an engagement ring as well as a wedding ring, and diamond engagement rings for women are as popular as ever. And with the advent of the internet, many people now choose to buy online where they can choose their own design and stone and to some extent create their own masterpiece.

It seems, then, that the diamond engagement ring is here to stay.


Dianne is the Customer Services fairy for online jewellery company 1791 Diamonds Limited, proud supplier of New Zealand made, designer diamond engagement rings.

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