A Brief History of Engagement Rings
Engagement rings began as a symbol. The betrothal ring came to signify ownership rather than the romantic ideal it symbolises today. These rings were worn before the wedding to confirm that the woman was unavailable to other men.
Whereas rings were once made from simple water reeds twisted together, or gold in later times of prosperity, at home the gold band was swapped for a more practical iron ring that was less easily damaged.
In 1477, an Archduke in Austria made his proposal with a ring that had a letter “M” shaped on it using flat diamond shards. From there, leading European men began following suit. Rings adorned with precious gems became far more commonplace. This practice continued for several centuries until the discovery of a plentiful diamond mine in the 1880s.
Introducing the Diamond
Diamonds were discovered in South Africa in the late 19th century. Shortly after, DeBeers was formed which acquired majority rights to diamond mines in the area. The company then successfully changed the historical thinking behind the practice of giving an engagement ring. Gone was the plain gold band or one with a few precious gems. What replaced it was a gold band with one or more cut diamonds in an attractive setting to reflect light and dazzle the observer.
Years later, N.W. Ayer & Son came up with the ad slogan for DeBeers that “a diamond is forever”. Hollywood also played up the diamond’s significance in romantic tear-jerkers which made young women chase the idea of a diamond on their ring finger even more. The notion that two months of a man’s salary should go to cover the cost of a ring was suggested and the suggestion stuck. Today, Canadians spend an average of $5,000 on an engagement ring.
At Jonathan’s in Grande Prairie, we have a lovely selection of suitable engagement rings for different budgets. Our staff appreciate the commitment being made and how choosing the right ring is a challenging process. Free consultations are available to help explore your options and see what engagement ring you’d like to get for your marriage proposal.