The Diamond Engagement Ring: Then & Now

Today, diamonds and diamond engagement rings seem synonymous with marriage.  But, monogamous relationship and the institution of marriage have been around for thousands of years – ages before the first diamond engagement ring appeared on the scene.

In fact the engagement ring, or the betrothal ring, is believed to date back to ancient Egypt, or possibly earlier. However, some believe that these early rings were rudimentary and made out of crude materials such as grass, wood, iron and bronze.

It wasn’t until the 15th century that any mention of a diamond engagement ring was recorded in the books. This monumental diamond ring which was to go down in history was gifted by Archduke Maximilian of Hamburg to Mary of Burgandy in honor of their engagement.

First mention of a diamond engagement ring

While this was the first instance of a diamond engagement ring, this gift certainly didn’t begin the diamond engagement rings trend.  Diamond and gemstones were only available to the extremely rich or the royal until quite recently.

Only in the late 19th century were diamond mines discovered in South Africa.  New industrial technology allowed for the plethora of discovered diamond deposits to be mined, manufactured and distributed quickly and efficiently all over the world. The combination of the discovery of these deposits and technology made diamonds and gemstones more affordable and more accessible.

Real diamond engagement ring

But the real diamond engagement ring boost came over fifty years later when De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. began looking for ways to help increase the declining sale of diamonds brought about by the Great Depression.  In 1947 the company launched running their now famous advertising campaign “A Diamond is Forever”.  It was this campaign that transformed the diamond from what was once an exclusive luxury item to the essential component of a suitable engagement.