Getting engaged is surely one of life’s happiest and most significant events for the ring signals acceptance to the formal proposal of marriage and exclaims to the world that the wearer has been chosen to share someone’s life. And, it might also be said that this is a truly delicious time for it allows, even encourages the wearer to talk more with her hands to display and show off the dazzling rock(s) adorning her finger.
But even more than that the ring symbolizes everything the giver and the wearer hold dear especially if the ring is of their own design. If this is you with an engagement ring in your future you need to see Joe at LL Private Jewellers so he can make your design a reality.
But why an engagement ring? Who started the trend of placing a ring on the finger of his intended bride? When was the first engagement ring given? For what purpose other than signalling the intent to marry was an engagement ring given to make the giving into a tradition? The historical record provides the answers to the two middle questions but not the first and fourth and since I’ve often wondered about those two questions, especially the first one, I went on a hunt for answers. The following is what I learned, beginning with questions 2 and 3.
A brief history of the Diamond Engagement Ring
The very first diamond engagement ring was given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria, in 1477, on the occasion of his betrothal to Princess Mary of Burgundy and in so doing sparked the trend for diamond engagement rings among European royalty and wealthy aristocratic families. This trend for engagement rings not only continued but became even more popular with the inclusion of emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and even pearls. But diamonds at that time were rare and hugely expensive so such rings were out of reach for families of lesser means until the late nineteenth century when huge diamond deposits were discovered in South Africa.
But world events – the Great War (1914-18) and the Great Depression of the 1930s – occurred sending diamond prices into a downward spiral to total collapse. Enter De Beers diamond cartel and their historical ad and marketing campaign of 1938-39 whose aim was to reverse diamonds’ and their own fortunes by convincing consumers that an engagement ring was indispensable and that a diamond, being synonymous with fidelity and eternal love, was the only acceptable stone for an engagement ring.
That campaign was hugely successful because it, along with De Beer’s slogan, “A Diamond is Forever” coined in 1947, is still quoted today. An interesting aspect of the De Beer’s market research campaign of 1938-9 was that diamond engagement rings were going out of style by the then younger generation, which would then make them the target audience for that ad campaign.
Answers to questions 1 & 4 above
My hunt for answers as to why an engagement ring and for what purpose was very revealing and not at all romantic because, quite simply, the engagement ring was a form of insurance or collateral for the woman – a sort of bankruptcy protection – if the wedding didn’t take place. But that was then, prior to the 1930s when the legal term or Act, “Breach of Promise to Marry” was enacted to protect the woman so she could sue her betrothed if he bailed on her. By the 1930s, however, that law was repealed leaving women with no legal recourse if the man failed in his obligation to marry; hence collateral insurance in the form of the Engagement Ring.
And being the 1930s, the repeal of this law appears to have coincided nicely with the De Beers’ marketing campaign to boost their sales. And re that comment above about the preference of the younger generation of that time, well, rumour has it that it’s being repeated. But, whatever your style that is unique to you and your betrothed, there’s no better way to celebrate the big event than having your engagement ring custom-made by a master craftsman – Joe, at LL Private Jewellers.
Please for more information about diamond engagement rings please contact LL Private Jewellers at 604-683-3919.