One of the reasons I LOVE working in the jewelry business is that I get to help make people happy, whether it’s people finding gifts for themselves or for loved ones, or people receiving jewelry as a gift. Engagement rings are one of the most fun gifts for me to help someone pick out: whether the ring comes as a total surprise or the couple selects it together, being part of something that will be worn forever is such a treat.
Although the modern American idea of an engagement ring dates back only to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, variations on the engagement ring have existed for millennia and across cultures, including the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and many groups across Asia. Egyptians wore and were buried in a thin silver or gold band, Romans had an iron and gold band, the latter for out of the house wear only, and Asian rulers used rings as a way to identify their multiple wives. Christians increasingly embraced the engagement ring tradition beginning in the 13th century. The first known engagement ring featuring diamonds arrived on the scene in 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy with a band set with diamond “chips” in the shape as a letter “M.” However, non-diamond engagement ring trends would continue for centuries. In eighteenth-century America, for example, colonial women often turned the standard engagement gift of a sewing thimble into a ring by removing the thimble’s top. When diamonds were discovered in South Africa at Cape Colony in 1867, the sudden plentiful supply allowed diamond jewelry to really take off. By the end of the 1800s, the modern diamond engagement ring was becoming increasingly well-established, but it took a clever DeBeers marketing campaign in the 1930s to make the link between diamonds and love as firm as it is today in our minds. Nevertheless, non-diamond engagement rings aren’t going anywhere – one need look no further than the Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement ring, which features a large center sapphire surrounded by diamonds, for evidence that the diamond solitaire is not your only option.
Here at Prather Beeland, we love engagement rings whether they’re big or small, and with any kind of stone. Whether you’re dreaming of a classic diamond or looking to start a new trend, we’ve got some of our favorite picks for you below!
|Sapphires and Diamonds|
|Opals and Rose Cuts|
|Platinum, .51ct Old European Cut|
|14K, 1.50 Old European Cut|