Arlington & Co. Hatton Garden – Engagement Ring History – Ancient Egypt to 1940’s
The engagement ring dates back to the ancient Egyptians, if not earlier. This is how the ultimate symbol of love and commitment has evolved from then until the 1940’s.
The Egyptians have been found buried with metal wire around the third finger of their left hands, which was believed to be directly connected to the heart by a vein. Engagement rings were also used to some degree in ancient Rome.
Most historians would agree that the first use of a diamond ring to mark an engagement occurred in 1477 when Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a gold ring with diamonds.
From the 1500’s there are references to engagement and wedding rings in Shakespeare’s plays, and in the 1600s and 1700s lovers in Europe often exchanged poesy or posy rings, silver or gold bands with a line of poetry or a love message engraved on the inside.
The Victorians often had romantic symbols such as hearts, flowers & bows incorporated in their engagement ring designs even snakes featured as they were seen as a symbol of eternity.
Towards the end of the Victorian era diamonds became a more popular feature.
In the early 1900’s engagement rings were a widely known custom, and due to the industrial revolution and a growing middle class in Europe and the U.S allowed fine jewellery to be within reach of more people than ever before. Edwardian engagement rings tended to incorporate ornate lacy designs using platinum.
From the 1920’s until the 30’s engagement rings took on more geometric designs, reflecting the love of Art Deco at that time. Incorporating stones cut with long lines such as the emerald cut and using coloured gemstones, such as rubies & sapphires.
During the 40’s despite World War II engagement rings were big and bold, featuring curved designs with ribbons, bow and flowers once again. Platinum was scarce due to the war effort, so gold was the more prominent precious metal.