Who Started the Diamond Engagement Ring Tradition?
Fiancées can thank Archduke Maximilian of Austria for starting the diamond engagement ring tradition. It all began in 1477, when the dashing young Archduke wooed and won his lady love, Mary of Burgundy. He sealed the pact with a diamond ring, heeding his adviser who wrote: “At the betrothal, your Grace must have a ring set with a diamond.”
This sparked a trend for diamond rings among European aristocracy and nobility. The sentimental Victorians popularized ornate engagement ring designs that mixed diamonds with other gemstones, precious metals and enamels. Often these rings were crafted in the shapes of flowers and were dubbed “posey rings.” Diamond rings crafted during the Edwardian era continued the tradition of pairing diamonds with other jewels, commonly mounted in filigree settings.
Until the 19th century, the diamond engagement ring was a luxury only the very wealthy could afford. But today, in the United States, 88 percent of all fiancées receive a diamond engagement ring. Diamonds still signify the celebration of a union and cherished memory, though more cuts make more styles an easy option for diamond lovers.
Over the years, the most popular cut for diamond engagement rings has always been the round brilliant, consisting of 58 facets that divide the stone into a top and bottom half. Runners up include the princess cut, the emerald cut and the oval cut, with the cushion cut quickly gaining popularity as a recent trend.