What is the history of engagement and wedding rings?


Quick Answer

The history of engagement rings and wedding rings goes back to pre-history, during which some early humans would tie braids of grass around their mate's wrists and ankles. Later on, the ancient Egyptians gave their spouses gold or silver wire rings, which would then be placed on their third finger on the left hand.

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Full Answer

Wedding rings began appearing in Asia around the 1st century B.C., during which the Sheiks and Sultans would use rings to mark each of their wives. The year 1477 marked one of the first recorded uses of a diamond engagement ring, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgandy, influencing other members of the upper class to do the same. The Age of Enlightenment brought forth the use of gimmal and posie rings, however posie rings were often just used as an expression of sentiment rather than a formal engagement.

The discovery of diamonds in South Africa in 1866 helped flood the European market, as diamond mines exceeded one million carats per year by the year 1872. This made the practice of using diamond engagement and wedding rings more practical for those below the upper class. The popularity of diamond rings sunk sharply after World War I, but they became popular once more after the Great Depression ended.

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