When Did Engagement Rings Start?

First engagement rings were made around 3000 years ago in ancient Egypt. They were made of hemp. In the culture of old Egypt, circles were observed as symbols of eternity. That made them suitable tokens of perpetual love between husband and wife. Rings were put on the fourth finger from the right on the left hand. It was done so because Egyptians believed that below the chosen finger there is a vain going straight back to the hart. That allowed two hearts to be connected with the rings forever. Diamond rings came multiple millennia later.

When Did Diamond Rings Become Part of Engagement Tradition?

Maximilian of Austria - the man who first commissioned an engagement diamond ring for his bride
Maximilian of Austria – the man who first commissioned an engagement diamond ring for his bride

The tradition of diamond rings being given for engagement started in 1477. Archduke Maximillian of Austria was the man who commissioned the first diamond ring for his future bride Mary of Burgundy. His act influenced aristocracy and started a whole new tradition practiced among nobles. But his act was not the culprit for scaling diamond engagements ring on a global level. It happened with the discovery of a large diamond deposit in South Africa in 1867.

Discovery of Diamonds in South Africa

Man who discovered the diamonds in South Africa was actually a boy – a son of a poor Boer farmer Jacob who lived and worked in Hopetown on the bank of Orange river. Little rascal’s name was Erasmus. During his games, following the shore of Orange river, a boy filled his pockets and sacks with all kinds of stones he and his mates used in games. It was in 1867 when Erasmus’s mother noticed that her son’s playing tools seem a bit strange for regular toys. Since she knew nothing of jewelry, she took a few samples and brought it to a neighboring farmer, Schalk van Niekerk. He was fascinated and offered to buy them but she just gave pebble as a present. As soon as he showed stones to his professional acquaintances it turned out that it was a word of a diamond weighing 21.25 carats. The diamond was remembered as Eureka Diamond. Just a few years later and dozens of diggings appeared all around the Orange River. After being a primary source of diamonds for over 150 years, Brazil was pushed out onto second place and South Africa took the lead creating a revolution on diamonds markets.

Mining excavation on a mountain
Mining excavation on a mountain

However, when it comes to engagements, it was not for another century that the diamonds came into wider usage. It was because, at a time, diamonds were reserved only for royalty. In some parts of France during the 20th century, it was forbidden by law for a commoner to wear a diamond. Only knights were allowed to carry such gems. If a commoner was caught wearing a diamond he would encounter severe consequences. In addition, they were worn only at night. It was considered highly vulgar to put them on during the day.

When and Why Did Diamond Engagements Get to a Wider Usage?

It was in 1947 that diamond engagement rings lived their breakthrough into mass consumption. The diamond market in the U.S. was demolished by great depression. De Beers company was looking for a miracle that could revive their business. Frances Gerety, the only female copywriter from the Philadelphia ad agency hired to invent a commercial that was supposed to boost sales, found the solution. It was only four words.

A diamond is forever.

As circles, rings represented eternity. Diamonds are long-lasting. Their life is esteemed to be multiple billions of years. Therefore, they are the perfect match for the ring attachment and token of perpetual love. In addition, they are shiny, cool-looking and expensive. These four words made madness in the world of young couples and gave birth to a whole new tradition. It created a psychological feeling of obligation for men to present a diamond to their future women.

However, below all that romance image and eternal love symbolism, diamond rings share one common disadvantage – after being purchased and taken out of the jewelry store, their value rapidly decreases.

Diamond Rings Value Decrease

As soon as you purchase the diamond ring its value decreases more than double. It is esteemed that the moment you step out of the jewelry store, diamond paid 2000$ can be sold only for 600$. It gives the slogan a diamond is forever a whole new meaning. Since the value drops down so much, if you buy a diamond, you are probably going to get stuck with it for the rest of your life.

Truth Revealed – Diamonds Are Not Rare

In most cases, together with glamour and expensiveness, rarity is one of the associations that instantly appears on the mere mention of the diamond. However, the reality is exactly the opposite. Among all precious gems, diamonds are actually the most common. The idea of rarity is a consequence of the monopoly that De Beer company established over African mines. This allowed De Beer to create a low supply and produce an artificial rarity effect.

Preceding is the list of additional interesting facts about diamonds:

  • To reach its full potential a rough diamond will be conducted to cutting after which it will lose about 50 percent of its original weight.
  • There are white dwarf stars in space that contain a diamond core. The largest diamond in the universe weighs around 2.27 thousand trillion tons and holds 10 billion carats in weight.
  • A flame from the candle has millions of small diamonds.
  • Man-made diamonds are probably the most sensational fact regarding the famous gem. Scientists are capable of taking human ashes and pressuring them until they become diamonds.
  • Diamonds weren’t always mined from the earth. In the beginning, they were found alongside or at the bottom of rivers.
  • For now, the diamond is the hardest discovered natural material. According to researchers, a diamond is up to 58 times firmer than any other compound present in our world’s nature. 

The Most Precious Diamond on Earth

Koh-I-Noor is the most expensive diamond on earth. Its weight is 105.6 carats and is oval-shaped. The stone has been mined in India in the 1300s. British acquired, (probably stole) the stone in 1850. In 1852 prince Albert cut the diamond to increase its brilliance and sparkle. Its current dimensions are: 3.6cm in length, 3.2cm in width, and 1.3cm deep. This colorless oval-cut one of its kind gem is also known as Mountain of Light and the Diamond of Babur. Today, the diamond can be seen in the Jewel House at the Tower of London. Every year, millions of visitors come to visit just so they could see one of the biggest cut diamonds in the world with their own eyes. Such a precious gem is, of course, the object of many disputes. The governments of India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan all claim rightful ownership over the Koh-i-Noor and demand its return from the time India gained independence from the UK in 1947. However, the British insist the gem was acquired according to law and reject requests to return it. Before it was exposed in the Tower of London diamond was worn by female members of the English ruling dynasty. As heads that wore crowns changed, it was integrated and removed from one crown to another. Since gem was a cause of many conflicts it acquired a reputation to bring bad luck which was possibly one of the reasons from being removed from the royal outfit and exposed for the pleasure of visitors.

Koh-i-Noor the most precious diamond in the world known for bringing bad luck and causing fights between people
Koh-i-Noor the most precious diamond in the world known for bringing bad luck and causing fights between people

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