People in all cultures have worn jewelry since before time was recorded. In fact, our ancestors may have decorated themselves with jewelry before they wore clothes. They made their ornamentation from bones, feathers, seeds and other natural materials. Rings today are just as unique, especially when custom designed by expert jewelers.
Rings Represent Eternity
Historians believe rings were the first types of formal jewelry. Because circles have no beginning and no end, they came to symbolize eternity. The first rings were likely worn as talismans and may have had magical powers attributed to them. Later, rings were used for identification as well as religious and commemorative purposes. They were even sometimes intended to be seen by the public and convey a message of eternity.
An Engagement Ring Is a Promise
Prior to the second century B.C., one ring sufficed for both engagement and marriage. Around this time,
ancient Romans began giving their brides-to-be two rings. One was a gold band to be worn in public, and the other was an iron band to be worn at home. Whether gold or iron, the betrothal ring represented a pledge to marry. Historians once thought that ancient engagement rings served as part of the bride price in which girls were purchased and owned by their husbands-to-be, but that is now regarded as a fallacy.
Engagement rings came into greater use in the Middle Ages as church authorities mandated that couples wait until marriage banns had been posted. As wearing an engagement ring spread to other cultures through the ages, the rings evolved from simple bands of metal. Colored gemstones were fashionable until contemporary times when beautiful, clear diamonds became signs of love and promise.
The Promise of Diamonds
Now, nearly all engagement rings include one or more diamonds. Each diamond is unique, but it takes an expert to facet the uncut stone so that it flashes with light. The faceted diamond is then placed in a setting that further enhances its beauty. The sparkling engagement ring is then given to another as a promise of lasting love.