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What do diamonds have to do with it?

February 23rd, 2011  |  Published in Featured, Style

While some traditions seem pretty obvious to me (the kiss after the ceremony, the honeymoon *wink wink*) others have me pondering “Where did they come up with that?”.

The engagement ring, for instance. We’ve all heard the commercials telling you that true love comes in the form of 2 months salary worth of diamonds. For the record, I think that’s a wee bit silly. I’d rather a lens or cowboy boots … but I digress.

When did the engagement ring become the symbol of ‘i love you this much’?

There is theory that the first rings may have been made from leather, plants, or other degradable material that served not only to symbolize a union between two people, but also their connection with the land that sustained them. Those original sustainable wearable pieces eventually morphed into metal rings adding in the sparkle of a gemstone or two.

Word on the street is some of the earliest adopters of the symbolic ring were the Greeks, Romans & Egyptians. These rings were meant to show the world that the lady was part of a pretty sweet business deal. *ahem* Not so romantic.
The swoon inducing Greeks are credited with wearing the ring on the left hand, fourth finger, where the ‘vena amoris’ or vein of love is supposed to connect to the heart.

Even the Popes got into the ring thing! Back in the 19th century, Pope Nicolas I said ‘heck yea’ to the idea of a gold ring as a betrothal requirement, proof that the groom had the ability to bring home the bacon.

Round about 800 B.C. in India, the first diamonds were discovered, along with the deep desire to flaunt them. Many believe the diamond to be magical, and if you’ve ever watched a bunch of ladies walk into a Tiffany’s, that’s not too far fetched. ;)

The first lucky lady to be given a diamond engagement ring was Mary of Burgundy. The Archduke Maximilian of Hamburg got down on one knee (okay, I may be making that part up) in 1477. And, for most others, unless you were royalty, wicked wealthy or a gem thief, the only diamond you’d be wearing is the one in your dreams.
In the 18th century, the mother-load of sparkle was found in Brazil, making the diamond ring much more accessible, and prompted all the ladies to shout ‘Put a ring on it!’.

Somewhere in the 1930s this simple symbolic ring jumped the shark. De Beers was well known as a diamond supplier, yet it’s sales took a tumble in 1919. So, in 1930, when the De Beers Company felt a bit of a pinch, it turned to the N. W. Ayers firm to figure out a way to get the masses excited again. Encouraged by the Ayers firm, fashion designers & Hollywood stars dripped with diamonds, telling everyone the trend was to sparkle & sparkle loud! De Beers sold a whopping 55% more diamonds between 1938 to 1941. When Frances Gerety wrote the line “A diamond is forever”, the De Beers company pretty much did a victory dance & the diamond ring has since been the symbol of ‘i love you thi$ much’.

I suppose what it really comes down to is – what speaks to you & your betrothed. Is it the lure of a sapphire? The tongue-in-cheek of a cracker jack ring (engraved by Tiffany’s, perhaps)? Is it the glitter of a diamond, a ruby, an opal, an emerald?

No matter what symbol you choose to tell the world you love this person THAT much, make sure you choose something that rings true to you both.

[yes, that pun was intended]

About Stacey Doyle

Stacey Doyle has written 20 post in this blog.

Stacey is a New England Photojournalist, documenting the story of you.

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