Wedding Inspirations – Engagement rings: An enduring symbol of love

We have all heard the immortal words of most modern wedding vows: “With this ring, I thee wed.” These words encompass and evoke the deep meaning people assign to symbols like rings. While the wedding ring itself symbolizes the commitment of two people being joined in matrimony – and represents the more traditional side of marriage – the engagement ring holds a slightly different place in the story of couples making promises to be together. The ultimate expression of love and commitment, engagement rings have not always been a symbol of grand romance but have come to be exactly that. Engagement rings have also evolved to become an expression of individuality and the unique nature of each couple’s relationship.

The history of the engagement ring

Engagement rings have not always existed – but their earliest origins can be traced to ancient Rome. Records dating to the second century B.C. indicate that brides-to-be were given two betrothal rings – one gold and one iron. Rings signifying some form of betrothal actually seem to pre-date wedding rings, or at least were more common than wedding rings, which did not assume primary importance until the Reformation. The first prominent instance of a diamond ring specifically being used to indicate an intention to marry came during the Renaissance era, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy. This influenced the upper echelons of society to follow suit, eventually leading to the eventual acceptance of diamond rings as the go-to engagement ring for people in love.

Ringing in love

But love was not always the driving force behind engagement or the rings that symbolized it. In fact, the rings were a promise of ownership rather than a promise of love. Over time, the tradition has shifted – in many ways.

When diamond engagement rings first became popular, diamonds were an expensive and rare commodity but eventually, with the discovery in the mid-1800s of vast diamond mines in Africa, diamonds became within the reach of non-nobility. The tradition has included the simple and solitary diamond ring in the popular round brilliant cut, but as tradition has broadened and become more customized, engagement ring choices have become more ornate, elaborate and dazzling. The engagement-ring tradition has modernized, along with most customs, in the last 50 years, with couples looking toward custom jewelry to fit their custom wedding day. As the famous slogan goes, “diamonds are forever” – and diamonds, despite the changing wedding landscape, remain the most popular choice. Individuality, though, is creeping into engagement-ring design, including other gemstones, different cuts for diamonds and other stones, colored diamonds, such as champagne and canary diamonds, and mixed metals in the ring bands. Today, some couples are making a point, regardless of ring design choice, of sourcing conflict-free, “sustainable” diamonds.

Creativity is being reflected in people’s wedding inspirations – with less traditional engagement paths, the trend is moving toward intermingling tradition with bold and unique statements.

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Patrizia Saraga

Patrizia Saraga

What a long list of things could summarize my passions: style, details, colours, trends... but also artworks, interior design... If not clear, I'm the stylish and creative part of the…

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