Diamonds weren’t always the centerpieces in engagement rings; however, they did begin to flood local jewelers’ shops in the 1870’s when miners in South Africa began discovering huge diamond deposits. This allowed the diamond to go from a rare gem to a fairly common item. But even after they became widely available, diamond engagement rings didn’t really take off until the 1930’s.
Traditions Throughout Time
There are many different traditions involving engagements. It is said that the practice of engagement rings was to have started in Ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians believed the circular shape symbolized an eternal cycle, making it the perfect symbol for everlasting love. The fourth finger on the left hand was believed to have a vein that went directly to the heart, so this is the finger the ring was — and still is — worn on.
In England, one tradition was for the man and woman to break a piece of silver or gold, each keeping half to symbolize their engagement. Up until the 19th century, some women in America received thimbles for their engagement. After the wedding, they would cut off the bottom of the thimble and wear it as a ring.
The first known case of a ring being required was in the 12th century. Pope Innocent III stated that all weddings must take place in a church and the bride had to receive a ring.
How an Ad Campaign Influenced the Diamond Engagement Ring
Diamond engagement rings gained popularity thanks to an advertisement campaign by a jewelry company called De Beers in 1938. The demand for diamonds had been on a decline and the company knew they needed to do something to increase business. New York ad agency N.W. Ayer helped them create a campaign that would change the world of diamonds forever.
The campaign featured some of Hollywood’s biggest stars wearing diamonds and had fashion designers promoting diamond rings. People rushed to local jewelers and diamond sales went up by over 50% in the first three years of the campaign.
“A Diamond is Forever” became De Beers’ slogan and they still use it today, almost 70 years later. The slogan reiterated that a diamond is a symbol of eternal, unbreakable love. Within 20 years of the start of the campaign, 80% of brides had diamond engagement rings.
Engagement Rings Today
Engagement rings are the most common tradition to officiate an engagement in America. Every year, 38 million Americans will purchase fine jewelry or watches. Jewelers can work with customers to ensure their jewelry is exactly what they want. Nowadays, people have the opportunity to have custom jewelry made. While diamond engagement rings are still the most in demand, other colored stones are gaining popularity.
Whether you’re looking for an engagement ring or a wedding band, local jewelers will be able to assist you with all of your wedding jewelry needs.