Being the strongest and hardest natural material known to man, diamonds have come to represent unbreakable and invincible bonds. Combined with a ring, which has no beginning and no end, the engagement ring is the ultimate expression of eternal love between a couple, and is presented as a betrothal gift to formalise an agreement to enter into matrimony.
While engagement rings have been given as gifts since the Middle Ages by the Greeks, diamonds were not the original or traditional precious stones that were used due to its high cost and rarity. Gleaming red rubies symbolised intense passion and love, while the velvet blue of sapphires were associated with loyalty and harmony.
Here are some other interesting facts about engagement rings, throughout history and different cultures, that you may or may not know about:
- The act of placing the engagement and wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand, originated from the Greeks who believed it contained a vein, called the vena amoris, that led straight to the heart. This is the usual practice in the US, Canada, France, England and Asia, however many countries such as Germany, Russia, India and Norway wear their rings on the right hand instead.
- Romans considered the ring to be a symbol of ownership, rather than love, whereby the husband would ‘claim’ his wife. In second century B.C.E., a Roman bride was given two rings, a gold one which she wore in public, and an iron one which she would wear at home while doing house work. Not entirely romantic, but quite practical?
- Unique to the Irish and first produced in the 17th century, the Claddagh is a ring that features a pair of clasped hands, a heart and a crown. Representing friendship, love and loyalty, it can be used as an engagement ring, a wedding ring, or as a gesture of friendship. It can be worn on either the right or left hand, and depending on which direction it faces, indicates whether it is an engagement ring or wedding band.
Brilliance, fire and strength – I can’t imagine a more perfect gemstone than a diamond to symbolise a happy and everlasting marriage. To be sure, diamond engagement rings are here to stay and no matter what your tastes and budget, you’d be spoilt with choices when it comes to styles, designs, settings and sizes.
P.S. The stunning engagement ring in the picture above is a 2.18 carat, H colour, VS1, triple excellent cut round brilliant diamond set in platinum, paired with a diamond channel set infinity wedding band by Kiky Tay Fine Jewelry.