Engagement rings have been a tradition ever since Ancient Rome. The Romans are known to give and receive modest iron rings from their chosen one. In later periods, they switched to gold as their metal of choice. But, when did diamonds become so popular and appreciated for engagement rings?
Engagement Rings When the Church Was the Law
Back in the 12th century, Pope Inocentius III established specific rules for weddings in Europe and Christian countries:
- All weddings had to take place in a Church.
- The bride had to receive an engagement ring.
- A waiting period between betrothal and marriage for couples was enacted.
So after the engagement proposal and acceptance, the couple had to count down the days until they could get married.
However, in 19th century America, the custom was a bit more peculiar. Men were not offering betrothal rings to their chosen ones, but thimbles. It is said after the wedding took place, women would cut the bottom off of their thimbles and wear them as rings.
Diamonds Are Forever – since When?
Think about it – what is a diamond? A rock, right? So why is it so valuable? Is it rare? All you can do is thank – or blame – De Beers, a man responsible for diamond rings as we know them.
Since 1919, diamond prices and demand have been on the decline. People were advised to opt for a more intricate metalwork design rather than gems. So De Beers had to find a solution to make diamond rings popular again.
That’s why, in 1938, they turned to New York’s ad agency N. W. Ayer for help.
How the Diamond Betrothal Rings Became a Must-Have
Looking back, N. W. Ayer’s campaign to make diamonds a necessity for any couple was one of the most efficient of all time. They completely overhauled Americans’ view of diamonds.
The agency got Hollywood’s most famous stars to wear diamonds. Then they went to lead fashion designers and asked them to talk up diamonds as an emerging trend.
Results? In the first three years of the campaign, diamond rings sales grew by over 50%.
“A Diamond is Forever” – The Engagement Ring to Rule Them All
Were you impressed by the results the campaign had in the first three years? Sure you were! Everybody was. But, the “final blow” came a few years later.
In 1947, N. W. Ayer copywriter Frances Gerety wrote the slogan “A Diamond is Forever”. It instantly became the lasting symbol of eternal love. The line was so elegant and efficient that De Beers is still using it.
In the following 20 years, 80% of American brides were wearing beautiful diamond engagement rings on their finger.
Diamond Rings in the Present
Back in 2010, we saw the first online app for buying diamond rings. Yes, things got easier and more accessible. A survey published in 2015 revealed women care more about the betrothal ring’s design than any other thing.
When asked if they would prefer a gemstone in their engagement ring, almost 70% of them said “Yes!” Their gemstone of choice? The diamond.