The History of Engagement Rings

The history of engagement rings is a long one. In the beginning, men simply gave their fiancees a ring to show their intent to marry her. It was a tradition that was started in ancient Egypt. The earliest rings were made of flint, bone, bronze or iron. They were worn on the left hand and, according to anthropologists, symbolised the union between two people.

Do couples choose engagement rings together?

In the Roman era, the practice of giving women rings became more regulated. A man would give his fiancee a ring of ivory, gold or iron to signify his ownership over her. Some image-conscious Roman women were given two engagement rings – a gold ring to wear when out and about and an iron ring for everyday use at home. In the Middle Ages, gimmel rings (two or three interlocking bands) took on gothic designs with intricate carvings and clasps that joined together to form a whole. Poesy rings, which featured a short inscription of love, were also popular.

After WW1, diamond prices collapsed, and the ring became less important in terms of being the symbol of an engagement or formal betrothal. It wasn’t until the late 1930s when the mining company De Beers came up with their famous campaign slogan “A diamond is forever.” That really put the ring back on the map for most people.

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