Apparently exchanging engagement rings dated back as far as the Romans who gave the bride to be, one made of iron, which is a bit ish if you ask me. And then around 1477 or so the Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave his fiancé a diamond ring, which in those days was extremely rare.
With the discovery in South Africa in the late 1800s of large deposits of diamonds, diamonds became available to the wealthy but they were still expensive and costly to mine, however as the deposits were exposed the supply became higher than demand. What precipitated the diamond engagement ring epidemic was a slick piece of advertizing by an agency working for, of course De Beers, a market was literally created and the standard was born.
This piece of advertizing brilliance began in 1930s devised by N.W. Ayer, who persuaded Hollywood actresses to begin wearing diamonds in public. The eager audience much like today, followed what was going on in Hollywood and the trend soon caught on, between 1938 and 1941 diamond sales went up 55%. The rise continued with the symbol of a diamond ring pretty much a prerequisite to any sort of proposal and along with that came the “how much to spend question”? At one point I recall hearing a month’s salary and then perhaps two, but I am not sure it works like that anymore?
You see as women become more and more recognized as an equal player in the job market and they forge ahead in high earning careers, previously the sole bastion of men, expectations change. Women may well be earning the same or more than their male partners and they could easily buy a ring of that “cost” themselves and often do, ie the right hand ring, yet another brilliant marketing ploy!
With the intimate look into celebrity life too, there is that desire to have a ring like so and so’s or as big as hers from that show. Whilst I think there has been some movement away from the flashy, large solitaire diamond engagement ring, with eternity bands and wedding/engagement rings in one, the majority of ladies out there, would indeed love a beautiful sparkling rock from their loved one.
The specialness of the rare, mystical diamond sends that message of “I think you too are rare, unique and so very special” – no I am not aligned with that advertizing company, but it is true diamonds whichever way you look at it are gorgeously unique, they are the physical form of snowflakes and look at the magic in those!!
I have to confess I desired a beautiful engagement ring and here comes the warning part, really take time to decide what sort of ring you’d like and ask your fiancé to be honest with their budget expectations. I went through about three or four rings in total, some of which I couldn’t return, I ended up loving the original after I had it sized up a carat and adoring another which can be a wedding or an engagement ring. However my wonderful, patient fiancé has decreed he’s not buying me any more jewelry ever again ……. And I can’t really blame him either!
At the time a married friend of mine said she thought engagement rings and fine jewelry were the biggest waste of money ever and she’d rather have a piece of art or a mind blowing holiday. I am sure my fiancé was feeling the same way, but I noticed she didn’t wear any sort of ring at all. A few years later they experienced a rather traumatic event as a family and she began to wear a cocktail ring on her wedding finger, then her husband bought her a ring back from a business trip and then they went together and purchased an engagement-type looking ring. I wonder if this was just co-incidence or whether this was a subconscious way of reminding themselves “we are in this together and we’ll get beyond this rubbish period of our lives together”.
Whatever your thoughts on engagement rings, the meanings behind them or whether you feel the need to wear one at all, today we have so many choices for all the different tastes, for all the different budgets and of course you can always have one designed for you. Even this has choices, by a top designer or by an emerging designer from your nearest art & design school.
When I look at either of my rings I feel a wee glow, not only because they are so beautiful, but my wonderful chap was so generous and kind enough to buy them for me ….. wearing them I think I look just a tad more sparkly, but boy do I feel a whole lot more fabulous inside!
Look Gorgeous, Feel Fabulous - Sophie
Tips For Looking After Your Diamonds
- Store all your jewelry separately to prevent scratches and loosening of settings
- Cloth pouches or lined boxes are best
- Diamonds repel water but not grease and dirt, so wherever possible avoid wearing them whilst doing messy and/or hard activity
- Avoid touching or wearing them after putting on hand cream or lotion
- Check the setting regularly to ensure the fixture is still secure
- Use an ammonia based detergent, mixed with water to clean once a month
- Soak the diamonds overnight in the solution
- Gently brush with a soft toothbrush to remove grime and dirt
- Check the settings for wear and damage
- Place on a paper towel to dry
- Or alternatively take yearly to a jeweler for professional cleaning
Look Gorgeous, Feel Fabulous