We all know a ring on your left hand is the universal sign of being off the market. A close-up shot of the bling is the most popular way to announce, “WE’RE ENGAGED!”
Have you ever wondered why? It’s actually an interesting – and ancient – story.
The history of signifying a marital bond began with the Egyptians, who decided the round shape symbolized an eternal cycle. They wore a ring on the fourth finger of their left hand because they believed that finger contained a vein that led straight to the heart (called “vena amoris”).
The Romans adopted this tradition but altered it to two rings. Roman brides-to-be received a gold ring to wear in public and an iron one to wear at home while performing household duties.
Celebrities have been setting trends since the dawn of time. Well before social media, the first well-documented engagement ring was when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a massive diamond. Many historians say the ring swayed her heart away from another lover. Can you blame her?
Men with money followed suit, buying diamonds for their betrothed as a sign of their higher social standing.
In the late 1800’s, diamonds were discovered in South Africa. The Victorian Era saw more than one million carats mined each year. That meant men with lesser means could join the engagement ring movement. And the engagement ring trend grew.
After World War I, diamond ring purchases declined. As the Great Depression hit, people barely had enough money for food and basic necessities, much less luxuries. That caused engagement rings to start going out of style.
Enter: the De Beer family. They began a marketing campaign as brilliant as the diamonds they were aiming to sell. Using the slogan “a diamond is forever,” they almost singlehandedly convinced couples that a diamond was the only acceptable stone for an engagement.
Since 1947, almost every groom in America who can afford it presents an engagement ring when he proposes marriage.
Brides have been sharing the news of their nuptials with a ring long before your friends started posting theirs on social media. It’s a deep-rooted sign of an eternal bond, a financial commitment, and -greatest of all – a desire for your hand in marriage.
Style Me Pretty Contributor – Madeline Littrell is a corporate PR strategist and freelance writer. Born and raised in the South, she loves big hair, country music, and chicken fingers. Madeline lives in Dallas with her Sheltie puppy, Tennessee.