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The History of the Engagement Ring


For millennia, the engagement ring or betrothal ring has been a part of the courtship process. By today’s standards, when a couple gets engaged, the first question is what the ring looks like. It is considered a symbol of not only their love but even without knowing it, the history of the ring it shines through.

But the romantic aspect of the history of the engagement ring is lovely too. As little girls, some women know exactly how they want the ring to look. All the way down to the cut of the stone and the setting of their ring. Engagement rings are generally picked out by the man but in some instances, after the proposal, the couple will go together to pick out the symbol of their lasting love.

The history of the engagement ring is one rich in culture. A history that reaches through time to the Romans and Greeks and even as far back as Ancient Egypt time and beyond. The engagement ring started as a symbol that showed how a woman was connected to a certain man. The cultural aspects of the symbology vary from culture to culture. To the Romans, the engagement ring was a symbol of the eternal bond they share with each other by offering the woman an iron ring. Some historians say that the idea of using a ring to show a lasting commitment goes back further to times when they used leather or even tattooed a ring on their finger. The Greeks thought the ring finger held the vein of love or “vena amoris” which reached all the way to a persons heart.

The history behind the gold version of the betrothal ring didn’t come about until Pope Nicholas the First in the 9th century, championed the use of gold to signify the groom’s ability to support his wife and made it an engagement requirement. But it was Pope Innocent the 3rd who said that the rings could be made out of any metal but they were to be used for longer betrothal periods. The use of gemstones came later as a way to make the ring distinguished. When this practice started, the gemstones would represent the months of birth for the family of the bride and groom as well as the bride and groom themselves. Today, the practice of engagement ring gemstones has different meanings. For instance, the gemstone may represent the month they met, the anniversary of their first kiss or some other special anniversary or occasion.

The use of diamonds in engagements rings were at first for the very well off. The first recorded gift of the diamond engagement ring was in 1477. An Austrian archduke, Maximillian, gave it to his fiancee, Mary of Burgundy. But since the discovery of diamonds in Africa, the gifting of diamond engagement rings has become a widely available option for those of every economic class. At one time, diamonds were thought to have mystical properties showing love and purity to the person receiving them. So whether the ring is a marquise cut diamond solitaire in an 18 carat white gold setting or a pear cut amethyst in a burnished silver setting, the history of the engagement ring is a far reaching and memorable grouping of ideas that have shaped the way we see them today.

Alex Lemone writes about love and wedding topics. For some more engagement ideas or to read some wedding tips, visit Wedding Ideas Etc. Note: You may reprint this article on your website, newsletter, or blog as long as the resource box remains in tact and hyperlinks stay active and dofollow.

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Listed: March 7, 2012 12:38 pm