Hope you are all doing swell today.
Being the nosy and curious person that I am, I had the sudden urge to research engagement rings. Since this symbol is a promise to wed in multiple different cultures, I was wondering where it all started and how it differs in different countries. Haven't you ever looked down at your ring and wondered how all of this even started?
Engagement rings began in ancient Egyptian times to symbolize a never-ending cycle. This was called the "betrothal ring".
This is different than the meaning in Western countries. In the Western Culture, the ring is worn (after accepting the proposal) on the left ring finger because in the classical era, it was believed that there was a vein in that finger that led straight to the heart. The tradition of wearing the engagement ring on that finger hasn't changed.
"The tradition of engagement rings as we currently know it arose in the medieval era, when, in 1215, Pope Innocent III instituted a mandatory waiting period from engagement to marriage. For the first few hundred years in the tradition of engagement rings, only the wealthiest nobles could afford precious stones for their rings, and most engagement rings were simple metal bands. Plain bands are still worn as engagement rings by both men and women in many countries, including Denmark, Germany, and Sweden."
For example, the Victorian tradition of engagement rings included precious stones whose initials spelled out a message: Lapis lazuli, Opal, Vermarine, and Emerald for LOVE. Other popular rings had gems spelled out Regards or Dearest. Some engagement rings during this era also contained compartments for a lock of the betrothed's hair. Before the end of the 19th century, some "betrothal" gifts did not consist of a ring, but rather a sewing thimble. Not so romantic, is it?
Once there was a larger population of those who could afford engagement rings, this became more popular.
Diamond engagement rings didn't become popular until about 1870 when diamond mines were discovered in South Africa. Then, De Beers created a very successful marketing campaign "A Diamond Is Forever", which we still hear today. They even educated jewelers to instruct would-be husbands that two to three months’ salary was the appropriate amount to spend on an engagement ring. Wonder how they are educating jewelers now. Explains why diamonds are so expensive.
Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is if you don't risk anything, you risk even more. -- Erica Jong