A History Of: The Engagement Ring

 

No engagement is complete without a beautiful sparkler.

The ring has been accepted worldwide as the ultimate pledge of love, an emblem of eternity, and the ultimate symbol of devotion. The tradition stems from as far back as the time of the caveman (albeit with less diamonds) and slowly developed over time from a necessary legal binding to the romantic symbol it embodies today with a little help from Tiffany & co!

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Originally the caveman tied cords made of braided grass around his chosen mate’s wrists, ankles, and waist, to bring her spirit under his control. Ancient North African Egyptians were known to twist and braid papyrus reeds rings for fingers and larger bracelets for wrists. The Egyptians as well as many ancient cultures believed that a circle was the symbol of eternity considering it has no beginning or ending like time. It returned to itself, like life.

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Much later, Greeks and Romans refined the art of making ornamental rings from more precious, longer lasting material for different purposes. Borrowing from the early man, the Romans are credited for pioneering the use of the betrothal ring, use them to ‘tie’ people to their marital partners.

1800s: The sentimental Victorians make jewelry from human hair, and use gemstones to spell out names or endearments, such as a D-E-A-R-E-S-T ring set with a sequence of diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, etc.

The more common habit of wearing the wedding band on the fourth finger of the left hand is based upon a Grecian fable.

It stated that the artery from that finger flows directly to the heart. The Romans referred to it as the ‘Vena Amoris’ or the ‘vein of love’.

1886: Tiffany & Co. introduces the “Tiffany setting,” a six-prong ring designed to maximize a diamond’s brilliance by raising it up from the band.

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1918: Cartier creates the Trinity Ring—intertwined hoops in pink gold (love), white gold (friendship), and yellow gold (fidelity)—for Jean Cocteau, who gives one to his lover, poet Raymond Radiguet. It is still a traditional wedding ring in France.

Interestingly, the idea of a ‘double ring’ or a ring for the male partner only came about in the 1940’s when it was given the OK from the Catholic church in America. It was then popularised with Humphrey Bogart wearing his first groom’s ring to marry Lauren Bacall. As the ring became popularised, designs became more daring and personal to cater to each unique bride and groom’s needs, which led to the development of the modern day ring.

The hole in the center of the ring traditionally is viewed as more than space; it was important, seen as the symbol of the threshold leading to things and events both known and unknown.

It is not difficult therefore, to see how the ring and the gift of a ring began to be associated with love, in the hope that this most worthy of emotions could take on the characteristics of the circle and capture eternity. And it is this hope that still rings true today

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