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History of Engagement Rings

Rings have been associated with love and marriage since ancient times. The simple iron hoop used by the early Romans to symbolize a betrothal was later followed by a plain gold band around the second century A.D.

The first diamond engagement ring was presented to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. It was given to her by the Archduke Maximilian of Hamburg. There are examples of engagement rings from the Renaissance containing a single, polished rough diamond. Others from the same time period contained several diamonds. These diamonds were set in the form of flowers or fleur-de-lys. The gimmel ring was a style popular during the 1500s-1600s; it had two bands that slid together when closed. Posy rings were inscribed with love poems or messages.

Eighteenth century engagement rings often featured diamond bows, flowers and hearts. A century later, the six-prong solitaire engagement ring was introduced, and became a traditional favorite. In the early 1900s, white gold and platinum filigree rings, with delicate lace-like detail, became quite popular. These rings are set with Old European Cut diamonds and are much sought after on the antique market today.

The Art Deco design movement influenced engagement ring design during the 1920s. Such rings often have geometric or step shapes, and are usually made from platinum. They sometimes feature sapphires, rubies and emeralds as accent stones.

Engagement rings from the 1930s and 1940s often have small side diamonds or carved detail, such as hearts and flowers. The center diamond is usually round, but set in a square shaped mounting. Illusion settings were common; they feature elaborately carved boxes holding the center diamond, giving it a much larger appearance.

In recent decades, engagement ring styles have been quite varied, and fancy diamond shapes (such as the marquise, pear, oval, heart and princess) have enjoyed periods of popularity.

Our next article is about Edwardian Engagement Rings >>


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Antique Diamonds
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Jewelry Metals
Engagement Ring Styles
Celebrity Engagement Rings
Antique Engagement Rings Gallery
Proposal Guide
Proposing on a Grand Scale
Buying an Engagement Ring on a Budget
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