The lust for diamonds dates way back, but where did it all begin?
The first recorded use of a diamond engagement ring for a proposal was from Archduke Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy.
The ring presented to her was set with thin, flat pieces of diamonds that had shaped the letter ‘M’.
However, the love affair of the rock began eons before the proposal between these two…
Pre-history: During these times, cavemen would tie cords of braided grass around his desired mate’s wrists, ankles and waist as a symbol of bringing her spirit under his control.
Circa 2800 BC: The Egyptians are buried wearing rings made of a single silver or gold wire on their third finger of the left hand, where women would wear their rings today.
The placement of the ring on the third finger was because it was believed to be connected to the heart, via the vena amoris.
2nd Century BC: According to Pliny the Elder, the groom would give his bride a gold ring first which she would wear during the ceremony and at special occasions, and then an iron ring which would be worn at home, as a signifier of the binding legal agreement of his ‘ownership’ of her.
1st Century BC: Puzzle rings first appeared in Asia in this time.
Sultans and sheiks would use them to tag each of their wives.
1217: The bishop of Salisbury at the time put an end to the practice of seducing girls into a mock marriage with rings made of rushes.
His solution to this was declaring a marriage with a rush-ring legally binding.
1456: The Gutenberg bible was published, however there is no indication of betrothal or marriage rings in this bible or any other edition of the bible.
1477: This was when the first recorded use of a diamond engagement was recorded.
Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposes to Mary of Burgundy.
1700s: Silver ‘poesy rings’ that were engraved with flowery, fluffy saying were circling around Europe.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, the Puritans gave their betrothed thimbles rather than rings.
Although, many of the thimbles would have had their tops sliced off, making a ring.
1800s: The Victorians would’ve made jewellery from human hair and uses gemstones to spell names and endearments.
1867: Diamonds have been discovered in the Cape Colony, which is presently a province in South Africa, leading to the beginning of an ever-growing increase in the diamond supply.
1880: Cecil Rhodes arrived in South Africa in 1873, and then became the founder of the DeBeers Mining Company alongside other investors.
Within the decade, they controlled 90% of the world’s diamond production.
1886: The world famous Tiffany & Co. introduced the ‘Tiffany setting’.
This was a six-prong ring that was designed to maximise the diamond’s brilliance by raising it up from the band.
1890s: Affordable wedding and diamond engagement rings had made an appearance in mail-order catalogues.
1918: Cartier created the Trinity Ring, the intertwined hoops representing love (pink/rose gold), friendship (white gold) and fidelity (yellow gold), for Jean Cocteau.
He then proceeded to give one to his lover, poet Raymond Radiguet.
The trinity ring is still considered traditional in France.
1920s: Retail jewellers and manufacturers attempted to introduce the concept of male engagement rings, which epically failed.
1950: Breakfast at Tiffany’s has been published.
In the novel by Truman Capote, Tiffany’s engraves the cracker-jack ring that ends up as Holly Golightly’s engagement ring.
2000: The diamond industry created the World Diamond Council to develop and oversee a tracking system that is said to ‘prevent the exploitation of diamonds for illicit purposes such as war and inhumane acts’.
2002: According to a study conducted by Fairchild Bridal Group, more that a third of couples purchasing diamond engagement rings would spend at least two months’ salary.
Let us know why you love diamonds in the comments below!