Many people associate diamond rings, and rings in general, with the beautiful union that two people share. Be it marriage or another strong bond between individuals, rings project a message of deep emotional involvement. In short, rings convey love.
A look back into history provides us with some different information on the origin of rings and their evolution through time.
Rings have symbolized a man’s ownership of a woman for thousands of years, but that meaning has morphed into a symbol of love and unity rather than ownership. The tradition has been traced back to cave men, who placed rings made of garlands of sticks and flowers around a woman in an attempt to rein in her spirit.
According to the American Gem Society, the trend of using diamond rings to symbolize unity and love began in 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy the first diamond engagement ring on record. The ring was set with thin pieces of diamonds in the shape of an “M,” igniting the trend of using diamond rings to signify an engagement among European nobility.
The United States was a little slow to catch on, but when we caught on, we did it with gusto. Diamond engagement rings didn’t become popular in the United States until the 1930s, but quickly rose in popularity after that. By 1965, a reported 80 percent of all marriages in the United States were represented by a diamond ring. What happened in between?
That vast change was made possible by the discovery of African diamond mines in the 1870s by De Beers, a company that enjoyed a position as the sole owner and operator of the mines for many years. De Beers was founded by Cecil B. Rhodes and Charles Rudd in 1880. Rhodes formed the Diamond Syndicate, a business alliance in South Africa that agreed to let Rhodes lead the charge as he orchestrated a public perception of scarcity of the precious gem. This perception of scarcity led to high demand.
In the 1930s, De Beers combated a tough national economic situation by marketing photographs of famous people wearing their diamonds. It worked, spreading the diamond ring tradition from European nobility to the majority of American brides.
De Beers’s 1947 slogan, “A Diamond is Forever,” spawned an intense increase in diamond sales, solidifying the image of the diamond in the American psyche as a symbol of everlasting love.
So why is the diamond worn on the ring finger on the left hand? The answer to that question started thousands of years ago as well. The Greeks and Romans believed a vein from the fourth finger on the left hand ran directly to the heart, and to put a ring over it meant the ring was almost directly touching the vena amoris, or the “vein of love.” This idea has since been proven untrue, but the sentiment is still going strong.
Just as all trends and mentalities can change with time, diamond rings have naturally followed suit. The “diamond is forever” concept is largely a thing of the past. If you have an unused or unwanted diamond ring sitting in a jewelry box, there’s no time like the present to turn that diamond into something useful. Diamond Lighthouse helps people find the best value possible for their unworn diamond jewelry, every day. Find out the very best way to sell your diamond here.