Gemstone Engagement Rings – Back To Basics
Diamond engagement rings have become so deeply entrenched in Western courtship rituals, it is impossible to image an engagement without them. It will catch many by surprise realizing that this contemporary custom actually originated with pagan traditions and a very clever marketing campaign.
The Neverending Story
Ancient Egyptians used engagement bands, as the circle symbolizes the never ending cycle of love and the space in between as a gateway to love’s story. Ancient Greeks are said to have been the first to use rings instead of just bands and placed the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand, as is was the assumed location of a ‘love vein’ that led directly to the heart. The Romans, ever imitating the Greeks and adding their own spin, adopted the ring as a symbol of ownership: the woman thus effectively belonged to the man.
Engagement rings as a definitive symbol of betrothal did not come into popular use until in 1215 Pope Innocent III established a necessary waiting period between engagement and marriage. The ring then signified the couple’s promise of love and fidelity.
The custom continued in Europe sporadically as other gifts were usually given. Colonial America for example used thimbles. Many women would then cut off the top of the thimble and use it as a ring for easier wear.
Particularly in Europe’s upper-class it became custom to give gemstone engagement rings. Archduke Maximilian of Austria is recorded as being the first to propose using a diamond ring. This was before diamond mines became more common, and so it was an unusual gift. It was around the turn of the century that diamond mines sprang up worldwide. Suddenly diamonds became a mass-market product.
The World’s Most Successful Marketing Campaign
Few realize it, but diamonds are not rare at all. The yearly production of gem-quality diamonds is approximately 130 million carats. That’s more than 20 metric tons of ring-quality stones. Yet diamond prices are still uncomfortably high. We can thank the N.W. Ayer & Son advertising company for that, since they spearheaded the world’s most successful marketing campaign in the 1930s. Through advertising, product placement in Hollywood movies and other means, they sold not a product, but an idea. Namingly, that no engagement ring is complete without a diamond. As history shows, this has never been the case in the past.
Gemstone Engagement Rings
The earliest stones used for engagement rings have always been gemstones. When it comes to quality, value and not to mention rarity, gemstones have always stood above diamonds. The variety is also much more extensive and makes for truly unique engagement rings as opposed to the cookie-cutter diamond variety.
Engagement rings have always been a symbol of love and fidelity and the devotion a couple has to one another. As such they require more time and effort on the part of the giver to pick out something truly fitting for his or her loved one.
Love is a many splendored thing. Only gemstone engagement rings can truly speak for it.