Ever wondered where engagement rings came from? Like with most things, the engagement ring was born out of the symbolism of love. The symbolic meaning behind a ring was the never-ending shape where the end meets the start again and so forth - until infinity. Many believe that the Greeks were the first to make use of a ring to symbolize love although they only used it at the time of marriage and not before.
During Roman times, men gave women a ring to as a promise of engagement and wealth. A key often accompanied the ring and romantics believe that this symbolized a woman having the key to a mans heart. Often rings were made out of iron and some cases where wealth was abundant, it was silver and even gold. From a less romantic view, many historians believed that the ring rather symbolized ownership of a woman, rather than love for a woman.
As for the placement of the ring, this too was an age-old tradition of the Romans. The ring was placed on the fourth finger as it was believed that it contained a vein leading directly to the heart, forever connecting the symbolism of love (ring) with the physical representation of love (the heart).
A Short History on Engagement and Wedding Rings
The use of a diamond in an engagement ring only came about in the late 1400's by Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Maximilian was then, a highly regarded man and inspired those of higher stature to follow suite, also giving diamonds as engagement rings. This soon spread to other parts of Europe and as production of diamonds increased, it spread across the globe.
A more western view of the engagement ring came about when Pope Innocent III suggested a waiting period between an engagement and a wedding testing the devotion of the man and the woman. Only once the devotion has been proved can a marriage take place. Around this same time, the size and flamboyance of the engagement ring become a matter of social status. The bigger and flashier the ring, the higher your status. In most cases this still rings true today.
The history of rings first originated in 1215, when Pope Innocent III established a waiting period between the promise of marriage, and the actual marriage ceremony. The rings were then signified the couple’s devotion to one another, in that period of time. During that period of time engagement rings often represented one’s social rank as only the rich were allowed to own or wear rings with jewels.
Engagement rings didn't become standard in the West until the end of the 19th century. Diamonds rings only really came into the picture by the 1930's and by the 1980's, 80% of women were offered a diamond ring to signify engagement.
Although engagement rings among men aren't popular, wedding rings became common during World War II, as the men overseas wore their rings as remembrance of their wives and families back home.