The history of engagement rings

Firstly congratulations Matthew on your great blog last month, it was exciting to share and enjoy your first story and I’m looking forward to many more. Your perspective and ability to convert my concepts to reality is awesome; we are a great team.  Your work includes some beautiful engagement rings, and I wanted to share with all of you how the engagement ring began.

I’ve always known that engagement rings began in a way we wouldn’t necessarily accept today – as a custom relating to ‘marking a woman as spoken for’. It also formed a kind of security, and sometimes even a form of down payment.

Thankfully this has changed, and the ring now signifies a more meaningful equal commitment.

Today the ring forms an important part of when a couple decide to commit to each other. The ring is still often chosen by a man as a romantic gesture, and with a very clear idea of what his partner wants. In the 2000s, most often the proposal of marriage is accompanied by the presentation of the ring.

Traditionally the ring is worn on the left hand ring finger and in earlier times this was believed to be representative of the fact that this finger contains a vein that leads straight to the heart. History reveals that engagement rings have been made of many different materials but more recently of gold and gems.

Some of the earliest records around the mid 1600s contain descriptions of diamond rings being presented. Popular designs documented from 1900 feature the solitaire ring – a diamond in a claw setting on a plain band, in yellow, pink or white gold:

1900s engagement ring

Towards the 1950s, it was still the solitaire ring and set in white gold or platinum, with more decorative shoulders, often diamond set:

1950s style engagement ring

From the 1960s we see different cuts of diamond in particular the emerald cut, often set with side stones.

The 1970s saw the fashion of multi-set shaped engagement rings and wedding rings, made to fit and often lock together, mostly in yellow gold:

1980s engagement style

In the 1980s and 1990s, we returned to the solitaire diamond ring and often incorporating a bigger diamond than had been seen earlier, and in 2000 the introduction of the square princess cut diamond often was seen, again set with shoulder stones.

Princess cut engagement ring
Image: The Jewellery Editor

2010 and it’s the ‘halo’ or cluster style, often with coloured gems including coloured diamonds as the centre.

aquamarine and diamonds

Aquamarine and diamond cluster

Throughout my career I have designed and made engagement rings of so many different designs – traditional, contemporary, innovative and adventurous. I have enjoyed every moment and I think most importantly the ring chosen should be reflective of the lifestyle of the client and I have always encouraged my customers to have what they really love, irrespective of fashion. Here are some of them:

adelaide diamond and pearl ring

Pearl and diamond engagement ring

Princess cut engagement ring

Aquamarine and diamond engagement ring

Solitaire diamond ring

champagne diamond ring

Champagne diamond ring

emerald cut diamonds and white gold

Emerald cut diamond engagement ring

Modern engagement ring

If you are looking for a beautifully designed and crafted ring please call in to Highgate and have a chat, I have lots of great ideas to share with you.

Cheers until next month

love Nicholas.

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