There are many examples of what men gave women to symbolize love and commitment. In Ancient Egypt plant sections were fashioned in circles to signify never-ending love. It was thought that the fourth finger (which we now know as the ring finger) contained a special vein that was connected directly to the heart.
In the time of the Roman Empire, Romans gave rings as symbol of ownership. Roman women were given two rings: a gold ring, which she wore in public, and an iron ring for home. Romans were not without a romantic streak, they often engraved a small key on the ring, it’s believed that the carved key was a symbolic key to protect and cherish the husband’s heart. In Europe, engagement rings were once known as a Posie Ring (rings with short inscriptions). It was given as a form of promise of fidelity and love. “Posie Rings” started the modern tradition of ring engraving.
The first documented diamond ring that was given as a symbol of marriage, was presented by Maximilian I, Roman Emperor in 1477 to Mary of Burgundy. In the 19th century, it was typical for the bride-to-be to receive a sewing thimble rather than an engagement ring. Now that’s no fun…
Rings did not become a standard gift for an engagement in the West until the end of the 19th century. Diamond rings as we know them today became the prominent symbol of marriage propositions in the 1930’s, only after De Beers began a marketing push to increase diamond sales.Today, 80% of American women are offered a diamond ring to signify a marriage proposal and the other 20% are given colored diamonds and colored gemstones.
Whether it’s a thimble, a Posie Ring, or a diamond engagement ring, they are all meant to represent one’s love, commitment, and devotion to another. For all those considering a diamond ring, please come see me, Midtown Jeweler’s Diamond Specialist.