How Engagement Rings Became Symbols of Love

By: Goylee Holland

The man kneels in front of his lady. The lady is watery eyed, crying of joy and excitement. The gentleman requests the woman's hand in marriage and offers her a luxurious, shining, ring. The lady accepts the precious gift, hugs the man, and happily says yes to the gentleman's request. They are now on the initial step of being together for the rest of their lives.

Diamond engagement rings are quintessential, time-honoured symbols of love. It all started in the Middle Ages when the diamond was deemed perfect to sanctify a pledge for marriage. Around the 15th century, it became a standard feature for nobles on their royal weddings.

The contemporary recognition of the diamond ring as a traditional gift of engagement was first known in 1475 when Constanzo Sforza presented to Camilla d' Aragona a diamond ring with a verse that said, "Two torches in one ring of burning fire / Two wills, two hearts, two passions, all bonded in marriage by a diamond." However, the very first recorded evidence of an engagement ring being presented to a bride-to-be was from Archduke Maximilian of Hamburg who presented the band to his betrothed Mary of Burgundy, daughter of Charles the Bold.

During the Renaissance, the engagement rings became more detailed and intricately decorated. Some even had special features. For instance, the "gimmel," or twin ring, had two hoops that slid open to display engraved love emblems or inscriptions. The fede, or faith ring, features two clasped hands that represented the unity of the couple. The "hands" usually held a heart-shaped diamond. During the Renaissance, the bands were really big to accommodate the decorations.

At the end of the 17th century, diamond rings began to feature lighter and more simpler designs. Then during the 18th century, diamond engagement rings began to flourish because of the discovery of new diamond pits and advancements in cutting and polishing methodologies.

The diamond's link with love became established during the early 19th century, primarily fuelled by the romantic mood of that era and influenced by Queen Victoria and her passion for sentimental gems.

Therefore, when you give or receive of an engagement gift --- whether a diamond band, a pair of diamond earrings, a diamond bracelet, or a diamond pendant --- you are truly giving or receiving a traditional symbol of love and loyalty.

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