The History of the Engagement Ring
A Long-Time Tradition
The tradition of sealing the bond of marriage with a ring has been practiced since Ancient Roman times, when a husband and wife would exchange simple iron hoops to represent the eternal bond of marriage. Shortly after, the iron hoop was replaced with a more expensive gold hoop.
Wearing a ring on the fourth finger of the left hand is a custom that dates back to Ancient Egyptian times. It was then believed that the vena amoris (or the vein of love) ran from that very finger and directly into the heart. By wearing a ring on this finger, a couple would be more emotionally connected through love.
The diamond engagement ring didn't turn heads until the fifteenth century, a time when diamonds were seen as talismans that could enhance the love of the wearer for their husband or wife. In fact, the magic of diamonds was first introduced in Greek mythology and it was said that Cupid's love-slung arrows were tipped with diamonds for added effect. It wasn't until 1477, when the Archduke Maximillian of Austria was the first to present a diamond engagement ring to his betrothed Mary of Burgundy. Since this time the diamond engagement ring became a universal tradition among engaged royalty and the wealthy.
It wasn't until the discovery of African diamond mines in 1870's that diamonds became accessible and more affordable for the general public.