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Episode 04: Diamond Engagement Rings

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Ever wondered where the tradition of The Diamond Engagement Ring came from? We’re examining why we wear rings, why diamonds, some alternatives, and more.

Episode 04: Diamond Engagement Rings
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Episode 4 of The Bouquet Toss is all about the tradition of The Diamond Engagement Ring. We’re examining why we wear rings, why diamonds, some alternatives, and more. Subscribe to The Bouquet Toss Podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app!

Listen to Episode #04: The Diamond Engagement Ring

Where did the diamond engagement ring tradition come from?

The giving of a metal ring as a part of a marriage proposal is thought by anthropologists to have originated from a Roman custom. Wives would then wear rings that were attached to small keys, as a symbol that they belonged to their husbands. There is evidence dating back to 3000BC of braided papyrus rings being worn by ancient Egyptians, so it’s safe to say the idea of a “ring” has been around for a very long time.

In general, the ring is round to symbolize eternity. In 850 AD, the engagement ring was given an official meaning by Pope Nicholas I who declared that the ring represented a man’s intent to marry the woman he gave it to.

Earliest Diamonds in Engagement Rings

Rings had been a common engagement gift since the early middle ages. There was apparently a diamond ring exchanged in the 15th-century betrothal of Archduke Maximillian of Austria and Mary of Burgundy.

Podcast Episode 4 diamond engagement ring
Image via Canva

Diamonds are the world’s most popular gemstone, but on the surface, there’s no valid reason why. There are many gemstones that are just as precious, as durable, and as sparkly. In essence, diamonds are overpriced rocks made from carbon. The hype and pomp and circumstance around the diamond engagement ring is actually the product of years of brilliant marketing by the diamond industry.

DeBeers is the biggest diamond company in the world because at one time they purchased up a bunch of their competitors until they controlled over 90% of the entire world’s diamond supply. Then, they limited the distribution of diamonds out into the market as a means to drive demand, increase prices, and therefore, their profits.

Many advertising campaigns for diamonds came out touting diamonds as a “work of art” or a sign of a deeper commitment. They also had a campaign called Real is Rare, attempting to dismiss lab-grown diamonds as not as meaningful or valuable.

But in 1947 they created a slogan that had the most notable impact on the entire diamond industry, or perhaps, any industry ever. Their A Diamond is Forever campaign increased the sale of diamonds by over 50% in under 3 years. The slogan implies that diamonds are durable and that the value of the diamond was a significant symbol of the giver’s love for the recipient. With this campaign, DeBeers really created a connection between diamonds and love. Buying/receiving a diamond engagement ring is seen by most as a momentous occasion. It was linked to status, wealth, and having “arrived” at a certain stage of life.

Why are diamonds so expensive?

Creative marketing campaigns, a company with a monopoly that intentionally limits supply are all factors in the perceived value of diamonds. Additionally, DeBeers is also responsible for the “rule” that an engagement ring should be the equivalent of two months’ salary. This undoubtedly increased the average spending on a stone by contextualizing it with a dollar amount. The size of a diamond in a woman’s engagement ring is often seen as a status symbol, but bigger doesn’t always mean better.

Diamonds are often priced based on a set of specifications meant to evaluate a stone’s value. The 4 C’s of diamonds determine their value: cut, color, carat, and clarity. However, many would say that the real value of a diamond isn’t from its technical specifications; its value comes from how much you value the person who gave it to you.

moissanite engagement ring by dreamcraftjewelry on Etsy

Who wears an engagement ring?

Traditionally, in heterosexual relationships the woman is the only one who wears a diamond engagment ring. Historically, men also wore an engagement band leading up to the wedding to signify their commitment, but that is less common in heterosexual relationships today. In same-sex couples, sometimes both partners choose to wear engagement rings and we’ve even seen an increase in dual proposals!

Engagement rings are typically worn on your left hand on your “ring finger,” aka the one next to your pinky.

Alternatives to the Diamond Engagement Ring

Want to skip an overpriced diamond? Consider one of these more affordable and unique alternatives:

  • lab-grown diamonds – scientifically, structurally identical to mined diamonds without the dirty history. Lab-grown diamonds are considered eco-friendly, and more affordable.
  • cubic zirconia – a cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. This synthesized material is hard and usually colorless.
  • moissanite – a diamond simulant made of silicon carbide that is much more affordable but offers a ton of great sparkle.
  • gemstones – colored gemstones are becoming increasingly popular for modern couples looking for something a bit more unique.
  • no stone – consider wearing a metal band or a ring made of some other material such as wood.
  • tattoo wedding rings – instead of buying a band, have your love tattooed permanently on your ring finger for a sign of lifelong commitment.

Looking for something more unique for your engagement ring? Browse more engagement ring info and inspiration:

What do you think? Will you be wearing a diamond engagement ring? Join us in the community to chat about this!

Links mentioned in this episode:

The Bouquet Toss Podcast

About The Bouquet Toss Podcast

The Bouquet Toss Podcast is Part of the Evergreen Podcasts Network

The Bouquet Toss is a wedding planning podcast that empowers couples to plan a meaningful, authentic, and affordable wedding celebration! On the show, we will have candid conversations all about weddings and why we do them the way we do so that couples can plan their weddings based on their own values, and not on the expectations of others.

In our Budget-Savvy Wedding Planning Community, we see the same questions asked over and over again. So many couples seem to be seeking permission to plan their weddings on their own terms, and we’re here to say go for it! We believe you should have your day, your way and our goal is to help empower you to plan a wedding celebration that actually feels authentic to you. 

This podcast is brought to you by TheBudgetSavvyBride.com and is hosted by the founder, Jessica Bishop, and real weddings editor Sari Weinerman. Subscribe on Apple or Spotify today!

In case you missed it, check out our other episodes:

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

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The Bouquet Toss is a wedding planning podcast dedicated to helping couples plan a wedding day that feels authentic to them! We examine wedding traditions and trends so you can decide what to keep and what to toss from your wedding day plans! Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app!