Valentine’s Day seems to bring out the romantic in many men, (and women) as they celebrate the occasion by getting engaged. In fact, more than 6 million Americans are expected to get engaged on Valentine’s Day this year – that’s a LOT of rings! So, where did the custom of giving an engagement ring start?
You may be surprised to know that engagement and wedding rings have a VERY long history. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians used plants to create circles symbolizing immortal love. These rings were placed on the fourth finger because of the special vein that connects directly to the heart, and the wedding band was born.
Throughout history, and across various cultures, the symbol of the ring represented eternal commitment, happiness, and love. The circle, with no beginning or end to it, is eternal.
Engagement Ring Highlights
- – 2nd century BC – Roman brides were given two rings, one to wear around the house (iron), and one for public show (gold)
- – 860 AD – Pope Nicholas sent a letter to Boris I of Bulgaria describing how in the Western Roman Catholic church, men give their betrothed an engagement ring.
- – 1477 – Diamond engagement rings make an appearance when the Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave one to Mary of Burgundy.
- – During the Reformation, Puritans in New England shunned fancy ornaments and jewels. Instead of an engagement or wedding ring, they wore a thimble – which some women would turn into a ring by removing the top.
- – The 20th century brought the explosion of the diamond engagement ring starting in the late 1930s and 40s, and has continued into today’s ceremony.
As a symbol of eternal love, engagement and wedding rings will be a part of you throughout your life together, and possibly passed down to future children, grandchildren, and beyond. You can take pride in celebrating a long-standing, world-wide custom. And, one of the great parts of quality jewelry is that it can be updated and altered so you can continue to build upon your original sentiment throughout your lifetime. Just as love grows, changes, and adapts over the years, so can your rings!