When it comes to a proposal, a diamond ring inevitably follows. The bride gets very excited, choosing the cut and the clarity of the stone, hopefully not causing the intended groom to have a heart attack when he discovers the price of the ring. Showing it off to her family and friends for their obvious approval is all part of the process. Why, and when, did diamonds become symbolic of engagements and marriage?
Before the 20th Century, there were competing customs to symbolise getting engaged. In England, for example, the couple would break a piece of gold or silver and each keep half, cementing the decision by having a glass of wine. In America, some women were given thimbles. Once they got married the thimbles would have the top cut off so they could wear them as rings. Diamonds were difficult to get hold of so they were really only for the rich and famous.
In the 1870s, miners in South Africa discovered an abundance of the precious stones and formed their own alliance ‘De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd’. This allowed them to release just enough diamonds around the world to make them still appear rare and incredibly expensive.
We were told a diamond is forever, jut like everlasting love, thus confirming an engagement will lead to lifelong happiness. This guaranteed the romantic guys were willing to save for as long as it took to present the ultimate love gift of all – a diamond engagement ring!