History of Diamond Engagement Rings

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history of engagement rings

A marriage proposal is often simultaneously exciting and nerve wracking for anyone who has ever considered popping the question. Whether you are the kind of person who likes to plan things, or if you prefer to be more spontaneous, you’ve probably given some serious thought as to how you plan to propose. What you probably haven’t taken the time to consider is what you will propose with. In today’s world, a diamond ring is almost universally recognized as the symbol of an engagement, but this wasn’t always the case. At the beginning of the 20th century, diamonds were almost exclusively worn by the rich and famous, and the average person wouldn’t even consider spending the money to buy a diamond ring. That all changed in 1947 however thanks to an increase in the world supply of diamonds and some very clever marketing. Let’s take a closer look at history of diamond engagement rings.

Although the universal popularity of diamond engagement rings wouldn’t be established until the mid 20th century, the notion of symbolizing a successful proposal and committed relationship with a ring dates back to ancient times. Anthropologists have revealed studies that show engagement ring traditions originated with ancient Romans. During those times, wives would wear rings attached to small keys to symbolize the fact that they belonged to their husbands. As time progressed, the engagement ring became less of a symbol of ownership. By 1477, Archduke Maximillian of the Austrian Hapsburg Dynasty commissioned the first engagement ring to feature a diamond as a symbol of his devotion and the nobility of his bride Mary of Burgundy. The popularity of diamond engagement rings would spread, and by the 19th century, ornamental jewelry featuring diamonds mixed with other stones became symbols of love and affection among Victorian era nobility.

Prior to the late 19th century, diamonds were not widely available for public purchase. In 1888 however, the De Beers Consolidated Mines company opened a series of massive diamond mines in South Africa, leading to more abundant supply available for purchase worldwide. The trouble was that no one outside of the rich and powerful considered diamonds as a reasonable purchase. In order to create a wide demand that matched the increased supply of diamonds, De Beers would embark of a marketing crusade that would establish an entirely new industry.

In 1938, the US along with most of the western world was just emerging from the depths of the Great Depression into a world fraught with the tensions of impending war. Diamond engagement rings were far from the minds of the average American until De Beers recruited a New York based ad agency to stoke the fires of popularity for their diamonds. The agency, N.W. Ayer, cleverly decided that the best way to create widespread demand for diamonds was to sell the idea of the diamond to the public, rather than the product itself. This meant that diamonds needed to be introduced into popular culture and associated with love, commitment and beauty, rather than wealth and extravagance. Diamonds would become significant not just for being rare, but for the symbolism they would adopt while being worn by movie stars and high school sweethearts alike; a diamond symbolizes your importance in the world, and it is the ideal symbol because “A Diamond is Forever.”

Following the 1947 campaign, De Beers began to push the same strategy designed to create a demand for their diamonds around the world. In most cases, the found gradual success, and eventually became the dominant force behind the diamond industry until the early 1990s. Today, diamonds are synonymous with love, romance and everlasting commitment, all thanks to an idea created by advertisers and sold to the general public.

To learn more about how you can find the perfect symbol of your love and commitment with a diamond engagement ring from Adamar Diamonds, be sure to browse our fantastic selection of rings on our website. You can also visit us in our Toronto showroom where you’ll receive helpful advice and info from our dedicated sales team.

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