Have you ever wondered how the culture of proposing with a diamond ring began? People have been exchanging rings as a sign of the bonds of marriage for thousands of years – but diamond rings are a relatively new trend.
Initially, a diamond ring was only available to royalty or the wealthy elite. However, mining processes made diamonds more readily available to the masses. Today, VRAI engagement rings make it possible to promise forever in an ethical and sustainable way.
Ancient Cultures and Wedding Bands
The act of exchanging wedding rings is believed to have originated in ancient Egypt. Pharos wore and gave rings to their spouse to symbolize the eternal bond that would continue between them even after death.
Greeks adopted the tradition of wearing wedding rings after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. Initially, these simple bands were made of bone, copper, or iron. Gold bands and gemstone rings didn’t become popular until much later.
1477: First Known Diamond Engagement Ring
It wasn’t until a little over 500 years ago that a man finally proposed with a diamond engagement ring. In 1477, Archduke Maximillian of Austria was betrothed to marry Mary of Burgandy. However, years of war left him impoverished.
While traveling through his homeland to meet his future bride in France, his subjects gifted his gold and silver. He used these gifts to commission an elaborate diamond ring worthy of his prospective bride.
It would be a while before the common person could afford a gemstone ring for his bride. However, by giving his bride a diamond ring, Maximilian helped establish the diamond as a symbol of eternity.
Queen Victoria’s Love of Diamonds Popularized the Stone
Queen Victoria adored diamond jewelry. Her bridal jewelry consisted of an elaborate Turkish diamond necklace. Brazilian mines made diamonds more readily available to the masses during this period.
Diamonds weren’t only for royalty anymore. Those who could afford diamonds quickly hopped on the trend. By the late 1800s, Tiffany and Co had produced their iconic solitaire setting, and the modern diamond ring rose in popularity.
“Diamonds are Forever”
Diamond rings became the norm for engagement rings thanks to De Beer’s brilliant 1930s ad campaign, which promised: “Diamonds are Forever.” As men headed off to fight in WWII, they wanted to propose to their sweethearts, ensuring they would be married when they returned.
However, after the Great Depression, people weren’t spending money as they used to, which meant De Beers had thousands of diamonds they needed to sell. They wanted to market diamonds as more than just a luxury item but as a sign of eternal love.
Hollywood celebrities became the new royals – their diamond engagement rings were featured in advertisements alongside their love story. Before the ‘30s, only about 10% of engagement rings included diamonds – by the end of the 20th century, 80% would, thanks to some very clever marketing.
Engagement Ring Trends By Decade
Engagement rings have certainly evolved since Maximillian first popped the question in 1477. Iconic styles like the classic solitaire never seem to go out of style, while other cuts fade in and out of popularity.
- 1830s – Solitaire setting popularized by Tiffany and Co
- 1920s – Emerald and Asscher cut diamonds in halo settings were all the rage
- 1930s – Ribbon-shaped bands offset smaller stones
- 1940s – Round cut stones were en vogue
- 1950s – Pear-cut stones became fashionable thanks to Audrey Hepburn’s iconic engagement ring
- 1960s and 70s – The reemergence of Asscher and Emerald cut diamonds
- 1980s – Royalty once again influenced engagement rings trends when Princess Diana’s stunning sapphire ring brought gemstone center stones into the limelight
- 1990s – Marquis cuts were most popular, with platinum or white gold eclipsing yellow-gold bands
- 2000s – Princess cut diamonds and larger center stones were favored
- 2010s – Cushion cut diamonds took the stage
- Today – Oval-cut diamonds are currently all the rage
But Are Diamonds Really a Girl’s Best Friend?
While many women dream of wearing a stunning diamond on their finger to symbolize their lifelong love – diamonds don’t have the best reputation. Leonardo Di Caprio’s movie “Blood Diamond” brought attention to the humanitarian crisis of mining for diamonds.
Mines typically employ child labor and have incredibly hazardous working conditions. Not to mention these mines wreak havoc on the environment and contribute to deforestation, soil contamination, water pollution, and carbon emissions.
Why Modern Couples Are Choosing Lab-Grown Diamonds
Today, millennials and Gen-Z couples shop with sustainability and ethics in mind. Lab-grown diamonds are anatomically identical to mined diamonds – the only difference is they are made above ground.
Not all lab-grown diamonds are created equal. Diamonds sustainably created by VRAI have zero net emissions. By choosing a VRAI lab-grown diamond, you can promise forever without an additional toll on others or our environment.