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Distinctive Gold Jewelry
19991 S. LaGrange Rd
Frankfort, IL 60423
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Getting engaged? The history you should know.

By Nancy DeRoo on 1/22/2017

Engagement Ring History

Getting engaged? The history you should know.

If you’re thinking about popping the question and Valentine’s Day is your target date, you’re in good company! It is one of the most popular days to get engaged. According to social media, the most popular day is Christmas Eve, the next New Year’s Eve, then Valentine’s Day. The most popular timeframe is from November to February.

Background of the Engagment Ring

Gentlemen you may blame Archduke Maximilian of Austria in 1477 with the diamond engagement ring purchase! He gave Mary of Burgundy the first diamond engagement ring. This influenced high society and the wealthy to do the same.

During the Great Depression, the price of diamonds collapsed. In 1939 DeBeers conducted a marketing campaign to educate the public about the 4 Cs (cut, carats, color, and clarity). In 1947 the slogan “a diamond is forever” was introduced. DeBeers was successful in persuading the public that a diamond was the only acceptable stone for an engagement ring.

Again, blaming royalty, the betrothal of Charles to Diana and the display of the gorgeous engagement ring of sapphire surrounded by diamonds was shown around the world, sapphires became very fashionable. The same affect happened again when that same famous ring was given in betrothal to Kate Middleton.

Learn more about the History of the Modern Engagement Ring, and don't forget about that wedding band!

Short History of Wedding Rings

The history of placing a ring on the fourth finger on the left hand begins before medical science discovered how the circulatory system functioned. People believed that a vein ran directly from that finger on the left hand to the heart. By wearing a ring on this finger it symbolized a couple’s eternal love for one another.

Western cultures a wedding ring is traditionally worn on the ring finger. This tradition stems from the Roman’s “annulus pronubus” (marriage ring) when a man gave a woman a ring at a betrothal ceremony. Blessing the ring dates from the 11th century. In medieval Europe, the Christian wedding ceremony placed the ring in sequence on the thumb, index, middle and then the ring fingers of the left hand. I have heard the story of pronouncing the blessing of “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen”; as the ring moves from thumb to ring finger.

In Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, and Brazil the ring is worn on the right hand until the actual wedding day when it is placed on the left.

In Jewish traditions the marriage ring is placed on the right index finger, but other traditions record it being put on the middle finger or the thumb. The ring must belong to the groom and be of uninterrupted gold with no breaks in it. Today, the ring is moved to the ring finger after the ceremony. Grooms don’t generally wear a wedding ring, although more and more are doing so today.

In Sinhala and Tamil culture the bridge wears the ring on the left hand and the groom on the right. Learn more about the Early History of the Wedding Ring.