The engagement ring is a constant a reminder of love’s power, dedication and devotion. It makes people glow, and not just because of the beautiful jewel. It is a new chapter in the couple’s life that is just about to begin. Even after the wedding, a woman will happily recall the story behind the ring and more importantly the relationship with her husband.
The origins of the engagement ring
Just like with anything bridal, the engagement ring has its own tradition, one that is utterly fascinating.
Going back to the third century in the city of Rome, the traditional engagement ring took the form of a key made from brass, bronze or iron. The thinking behind the key ring was that it unlocked a new life for the married woman. In some cases, the key ring unlocked jewellery boxes holding treasures within them.
In sixth-century England, a newly married woman did not only receive her key ring, but also a number of other valuables that the couple would share. Such valuables included keys to her new home. These would hang delicately around her waist.
The use of gold and gemstones in the making of the ring
Gold and gemstones in engagement rings made an entrance in the 15th century. Since then, this wonderful combination set the precedent for hundreds of years thereafter. Such engagement rings were more often present when royal families joined through marriage. As with today’s engagement rings, each stone had a special meaning. The ruby meant love, the emerald represented the home whereas diamonds stood for fidelity and durability.
Around this period, wealthy brides often received special rings with hidden messages. Most popular was an engagement ring with a rectangular diamond and ruby, representing commitment and passion respectively. Underneath the stones were satyrs and nymphs displayed in a scene of playful courtship. When a couple became engaged, the ring was split in two parts. She wore one half and he wore the other. Traditional sayings, such as “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder” were often inscribed inside the rings.
Fast forward to the 18th century, when the Irish claddagh ring became extremely popular. Still worn today, the claddagh ring features two hands holding a heart adorned with a crown. The first names of the couple were often engraved on the inside of the ring. Although the ring is associated with the small fishing village of Claddagh in Ireland, the design originated a century earlier in Italy.
The diamond engagement ring took centre stage in 18th century Europe. The steady supply of diamonds discovered in Brazil made the diamond engagement ring more affordable for the upper class. Also at this time, a second ring which we know today as the wedding band, was joined with the engagement ring at the wedding ceremony. Queen Charlotte, wife of George III of England, opted for a diamond band to accompany her engagement ring.
An engagement ring of your own
You now know the history behind the engagement ring, the romantic tales behind this timeless and iconic piece of jewellery.
Whatever the style of engagement ring you choose or receive, know that it is uniquely your own. It represents your history as a couple, as well as years of happiness and love yet to come.