What is the history of the engagement ring?

January 28, 2013 | By
betrothal roman
by lisby1

Question by ♫Sailing Soprano♫: What is the history of the engagement ring?
I was sitting here thinking about wedding and engagement rings (one of those random thoughts that pop into my head from time to time).

I already knew the history of a wedding ring, but really didn't know anything about the engagement ring.

What is the history behind it? How long have engagement rings been given? I always thought it was only something created by jewelry companies to make more money. Is this correct?

Best answer:

Answer by Petunia
The engagement ring is a timeless effort...... It's history, it's been around for ever........

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the year 180 AD. Gaius Julius Sohaemus, also known as Sohaemus of Armenia and Sohaemo (Greek: Γάϊος Ἰούλιος Σόαιμος, Sohaemus is Arabic for little dagger, flourished 2nd century) was an Emesene Aristocrat from Syria who served as a Roman Client King of Armenia. Sohaemus was a prominent person in the Roman Empire in the 2nd century from the Syrian Roman Client Emesene Dynasty. He was an aristocrat of Assyrian, Greek, Armenian, Medes and possibly of Berber, Roman ancestry. The novelist of the 2nd century, his contemporary Iamblichus claims Sohaemus has his fellow-countryman. Iamblichus calls Sohaemus as an Arsacid and Achaemenid, in his lineage and was a descendant of the Median Princess Iotapa, who was once betrothed to the Ptolemaic Prince Alexander Helios. Little is known on Sohaemus' family and early life prior to becoming King of Armenia. Before becoming King, Sohaemus had been a Roman Senator and served as a Consul in Rome at an unknown date. In the year 144, Sohaemus succeeded Aurelius Pacorus as King of Armenia. The circumstances leading to his appointment to the Armenian throne is unknown. Sohaemus was a contemporary to the rule of the Roman Emperors: Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus and Commodus of the Nerva--Antonine dynasty. In the first reign, he ruled from the years from 144 until 161. Not much is known of about his first reign. The novelist Iamblichus living in Armenia at the time of his rule describes his reign ...

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Comments (5)

  1. Oh Snap

    The history of the engagement ring is more about myth and fantasy than actual fact until you enter the 20th Century when a marked turn of events shapes public opinion beyond all doubt.
    Today almost everyone’s interpretation of the engagement ring is something along these lines: “A symbol of ever lasting purity, love, devotion and commitment between two people”. But where did it all start?

    The earliest surviving records have shown that Archduke Maximillian of Hamburg may have started the trend among the European wealthy and royalty of giving diamond engagement rings in 1477 by giving Mary of Burgundy a diamond betrothal ring.

  2. zorro1701e

    im not sure about the entire engagement ring, but i heard that traditionally, people wouldn’t have long engagements, so that ring was unnecessary.
    One thing i do know, is that the diamond on the engagement ring is relatively new. That was pushed by diamond sellers to make money.

  3. Bride to be 08/15/2009

    The earliest uses of symbolic rings are attributed to different peoples, including the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. Betrothal rings were meant to symbolize a woman’s connection to the man who would become her husband, though the arrangement was more of a business proposition than a romantic union. Romans used iron rings to symbolize strength and permanence, and the Greeks are credited with the initial idea to wear the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand, where the “vena amoris” or vein of love was supposed to connect to the heart.

    During the ninth century, Pope Nicolas I endorsed the idea of engagement rings by making a gold ring a betrothal requirement to demonstrate the groom’s wealth and ability to care for a wife. In 1215, Pope Innocent III made a similar declaration though the rings could consist of different metals, including silver and iron, and the rings were meant to be worn during a longer engagement period. The better the ring, the wealthier the groom.

  4. Blunt

    I was actually an ADVERTISING campaign and a marketing plot to help slow diamond sales post-depression and the advertising agency came up with the idea that diamonds could be sold to the masses instead of the rich an famous only. Here is the complete story:

    In 1967, a South African diamond company decided to change the Japanese courtship ritual. It retained J. Walter Thompson, the largest advertising agency in the world, to embark on a campaign to popularize diamond engagement rings in Japan. It was not an easy task. Even the quartering of millions of American soldiers in Japan for a decade had not resulted in any substantial Japanese interest in giving diamonds as a token of love.

    The advertising agency began its campaign by subtly suggesting that diamonds were a visible sign of modern Western values. It created a series of color advertisements in Japanese magazines showing very beautiful women displaying their diamond rings. The women all had Western facial features and wore European clothes. Moreover, in most of the advertisements, the women were involved in some activity that defied Japanese traditions, such as bicycling, camping, yachting, ocean-swimming and mountain-climbing. In the background, there usually stood a Japanese man, also attired in fashionable European clothes. In addition, almost all of the automobiles, sporting equipment and other artifacts in the picture, were conspicuous foreign imports. The message in these ads was clear: diamonds represent a sharp break with the Oriental past and an entry point into modern life.

    The campaign was remarkably successful. Until 1959 the importation of diamonds had not even been permitted by the postwar Japanese government. When the campaign began in 1968, less than 5 percent of Japanese women getting married received a diamond engagement ring. By 1972 the proportion had risen to 27 percent. By 1978, half of all Japanese women who were married wore a diamond on their ring finger. And, by 1981, some 6o percent of Japanese brides wore diamonds. In a mere thirteen years, the fifteen-hundred-year Japanese tradition was radically revised. Diamonds became a staple of the Japanese marriage. And Japan became, after the United States, the second largest market for the sale of diamond engagement rings. It was all part of the diamond invention.

    The invention itself was a relatively recent development in the history of the diamond trade. Up until the late nineteenth century, diamonds were a genuinely rare stone. They were found only in a few river beds in India and the jungles Brazil. The entire world production of gem diamonds amounted to only a few pounds a year.

  5. freddydiamonds

    I sell them, and cant tell exactly I have tried over the years but this is the best I was able to piece together over the years I have no clue what is fact or fiction.

    Centuries ago when a man was going to marry a woman there was something called a dowry, the dowry was kind of like a reward, or a symbol of either gratitute or entitlement given by the father of the bride to the newly arranged husband. Centuries ago, the upper and middle class lived in a hierarchy of social structure that dictated the bigger the dowry the more children and prosperity would come to the newly arranged couple. (Thus this is why in many ethnicity it is still the woman’s father who pays for the wedding)

    Centuries past, and the tradition took a change as arranged marriages were not as common in areas and societies in Europe and eventually America…thus the diamond ( the diamond itself has a totally separate marketing that evolved via debeers etc not discussed here).

    As the tradition exchanged to the man being the suiter, the symbol of prosperity and wealth being the diamond it was a small item that could be displayed in various social groups with a common and instant grasp of position, stature, wealth, commitment (sure your putting all your money on a womans finger), and of course eventually as Debeers fabricated an eternal representation of love (cough gasp).

    I cant say any of this is accurate but I have been in this business 20 years some I have read, some I have heard, some I have been told…sorry…but I think its logical…

    Now bear with me while i do some self promotion…dont be mad i have to earn a living to just like Debeers:

    Wait a minute Baby!

    Hey, this is the year 2008 going into 2009…your local jeweler lets talk about him he has NO magic source for diamonds. Think about it, the local guy sells gold, silver, pearls, puka shells, whatever he can get his hands on and yes diamonds…..does this make him a diamond expert? Maybe he just wants to sell stuff and earn a living no sin in that , but is it the best place for you to go? But wait where does he go?

    I will tell you he uses a computer just like you and finds a dealer in the NYC Diamond Disctrict….sure just like I am one of them (shameless promotion I admit), BUT , if you understand he is getting them in the year 2009 just like everybody else you too can get the same deal.

    Its overly simplistic , and a harsh dose of the truth but if you visit my website you will see even some small chains order from my company. Hey lets take it a step farther, Zales, Kay Jewelers they have good diamonds, sure they are not Tiffany Priced, or Harry Winston prices, but they are basically decent mass priced diamonds but again going direct you can get a great deal.

    Lots of people dont know this but 1 out of 3 diamonds sold locally and in chains is enhanced (cleaned up with a laser) to make them look better than their original state..thus, the final result is always the grade shown so if you cant tell the difference you have no way of knowing what youa are buying and all sellers are selling, thats right selling so forget the 4’cs or thinking of them as investments.

    Focus on getting a white diamond , a good diamond, and you will do well. Studies show the more you research the more you will spend.

    and of course shameless self promotion visit my website I even have a video of me personally on the site http://www.freddydiamonds.com again selfish self promotion…you would do the same thing thanks