Most people believe that the concept of diamond engagement rings were concocted by the De Beers foundation during the early 1900’s in response to low diamond sales. While they may have certainly had a hand in modern engagement rings, the expensive trinkets themselves date back to the 1500s!
Though the first documented use of a diamond ring for engagement was Archduke Maximillian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy, the Venetians were the first to popularize the beauty and versatility of the diamond. Soon after its introduction, the diamond engagement ring was all over Italy, and eventually spread throughout the upper class of Europe.
One of the earliest diamond rings in history fashioned for then two-year-old Princess Mary in 1518. Hoping to ensure peace and trade between France and England, her father Henry VIII betrothed her to the son of France’s King Francis I. As the diamond engagement ring was the newest rage in wedding style, it only made sense for the little tyke to have on of her own, albeit for a very short time!
Diamond engagement rings didn’t catch on in the United States until, it’s true, the De Beers Company reinvigorated the practice in the 1930s. A national advertising campaign was launched to convince the American public that not only was it fashionable to wear a matching diamond engagement and wedding ring set, it was downright unmanly to not buy one for your betrothed!
The campaign obviously worked, judging by the constant commercials and sparkly bling on women’s fingers everywhere. But, traditions have to start sometime, and most guys are very willing to shell out the dough to make their better halves happy. Remember, you only get married once!