Judaica Guide: A Complete Guide to Essential Judaica & Hebrew

The history of engagement rings

The circle has been a significant symbol in human civilization because it is considered unending due to its shape. A circle is also considered peaceful and holy. The circle got transformed into an engagement ring that humans have been known to wear for at least 5,000 years. The modern engagement rings have a steep history and it is amazing to find that they have been in use for such a long time.

The earliest times

The earliest engagement rings were worn by the Egyptians. Reference to engagement rings as a token of love was first written in 2nd Century BC in the works of Plautus, a Roman playwright. Engagement rings were supposedly brought into Christianity somewhere in 4th Century AD. The first engagement rings were used in the western world no earlier than 13th century. The first documented diamond engagement ring was used in the Imperial Court of Vienna by Archduke Maximilian of Austria when he was betrothed to Mary of Burgundy in 1477.

The use of metal

The use of metals in engagement rings started in the Medieval Period when gold, silver and copper became the choice material for the rings. Engagement rings received the status of jewelry somewhere in the 14th century when precious stones like diamonds were used in these rings. Ever since diamond found its use in engagement rings it became the choice stone for them. Some of the earliest diamond engagement rings had cupid’s arrows with the tips as diamonds and these were considered the ultimate symbol of love.

Royalty

It is said that till the 15th century only the royalty wore diamond engagement rings. By the 16th century, no royal wedding was deemed complete without an engagement ring. When Lord Darnley and Mary, Queen of Scots got married in 1565, Mary got an engagement ring for herself. In 1673, the proxy wedding between James II of England and Mary of Modena was symbolized by a diamond engagement ring that was sent by the groom. Another historic engagement ring is the diamond and sapphire ring that was presented to Lady Diana by Prince Charles. There are numerous other instanced of royalty wearing engagement rings when they got betrothed.

Modern times

Engagement rings are a symbol of betrothal in modern times. You will not find an engaged woman without an engagement ring. Some couples also choose to wear promise rings before they agree to marry. Couples are also known to wear both engagement rings and wedding rings post their marriage.

The history of engagement rings is very interesting and can fill page after page. It is worthwhile going through their history because it gives you a perspective about the importance of these rings throughout different eras of human civilization.

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