Where Did the Tradition of Engagement Rings Come From?

The history of engagement rings can be traced back to Ancient Rome when women started wearing rings made from flint and bone. Eventually, rings were made from copper, silver, and gold. In these times, rings were worn as a sign of love (and obedience), but also to signify a business contract. According the to the Gemological Institute of American (GIA), gold engagement rings were found to be a popular display of intent in Pompeii in 79 CE.

Centuries later, around 850 when Nicholas I was Pope, the presentation of gold rings from a suitor to the intended bride became an official custom. Gold was the standard material because of it’s immense popularity at the time. It was not until many years later in the 1930s that diamonds became part of the engagement ring ritual in the United States. Then in 1947 De Beers, a British company specializing in diamonds, launched an ad campaign that featured Hollywood stars and the now-famous tagline – a diamond is forever.

Since then, the gold and diamond ring custom has continued to evolve. Today brides still adore diamonds, but many have expanded their preferences to include other gem stones, either worn alone or paired with their diamond. Some women even chose to wear their engagement ring on their right hand instead of the left, the usual practice for so many years. Also, many men have joined in on the tradition by wearing “man-gagement” rings alongside their brides.

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