March 2004 – The Engagement Ring Phenomenon (Part I)


“Tranquility and Unity are the thoughts that inspired this piece. ” -ce

Four individual parts are joined by four circles forming the bigger circle of the ring itself. However, still leaving a space for a separate identity. The four circles that join the ring together contain a core of green diamond surrounded by another circle of turquoise.

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MARCH FEATURE: The Engagement Ring Phenomenon (Part I)

Because we are also known as an alternative wedding ring design house I have had a range of comments from clients. In many cases the search for the engagement ring has been known to be an ordeal rather than a pleasurable experience. It can create angst, uncertainty and pressure to do the “right” thing in what I term as the Engagement Ring Phenomenon. This has inspired me to cover the history of the engagement ring in our first newsletter. Next in this multi-part series, we will address some concerns and offer some suggestions as to not let the hype make you hyper. Keep and open mind and you decide what is right for you.

History of the Engagement Ring

Did you know that the “diamond” engagement ring is a fairly recent practice? It’s true. The engagement had humble beginnings and may have been no more than woven reeds or locks of hair to begin with centuries ago. The circle symbolizing perfect unity and eternity, because its shape has no beginning and no end.

The Betrothal (Truth) Ring, was first worn by the ancient Romans on the third finger of the left hand. This stems from the Egyptian belief that the vein from this finger leads straight to the heart. This ring was usually a plain iron hoop, which was replaced with one of gold for more formal occasions. The Romans inscribed their rings as early as the 4th century A.D.

Sapphires and Rubies adorned the engagement ring in the Middle Ages while diamonds were seen more as accent stones. The giving of a diamond betrothal ring by Archduke Maximillian of Hamburg to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 may have been a turning point in increasing the popularity with the European wealthy and royalty.

Early cutting techniques did not capture the diamond’s brilliance, so they often looked dull and dark. Elaborate designs were created, compensating for lack of brilliance in the stones. The less wealthy of the time were given a Fede (faith) ring in the form of two clasped hands.

On the whole, diamond engagement rings were not considered “traditional” until the 19th and 20th centuries, when better cutting and polishing techniques allowed the diamond to stand alone. Brilliant marketing strategies and the regulation of diamonds into the market place thus developed the illusion of their rarity.

With the discovery of Brazilian diamond mines in the 18th century, diamonds became more available to the public. In 1870, the Kimberely diamond region in South Africa began to flood the market with diamonds. The increased supply caused the prices to fall. By 1880, the famous DeBeers Consolidate Mines Ltd., formed by Englishman Cecil John Rhodes, controlled the sale of diamonds throughout the world. Even today they control 65% of the world’s diamond trade. In 1886, Charles L. Tiffany introduced the classic Tiffany six-prong mounting to compliment the diamond’s refractive quality, making the solitaire engagement ring fashionable. In the 1940’s, demand was greatly increased through marketing efforts, such as the DeBeers “A Ddiamond is Forever” campaign and hit songs like “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, sung by Marilyn Monroe.


A diamond is crystallized carbon formed over years of intense heat and pressure making it the hardest mineral substance. It resists heat and wear compared to other stones. A diamond can be scratched only by another diamond. It’s hardness is directional like wood grain and it is relatively brittle. It can be shattered by a misplaced blow. It is considered to be one of the most precious things in the world. Ironically, it is made of the most common material in the world. Carbon. Carbon exists in vast quantities in the earth, plants, trees, animals and people.


Modern Bride Magazine April/May 2004 features the Centerline Marquis Ring.


Gold and Platinum have soared between 20-35% over the last year, increasing retail prices.


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