Episode 04: Diamond Engagement Rings
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 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.
Why are diamonds so popular for engagement rings?
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.
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:
- Unique Engagement Rings You *HAVE* to See!
- Learn all about creating an engagement ring from vintage pieces
- Consider having a custom engagement ring made
- Get the best engagement ring for your money with these tips
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:
- Wedding Ring Tattoos
- Explained Episode on Netflix
- Stefanie O’Connell’s Wedding
- Why I Returned my Engagement Ring by Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez
- JLo’s Five Engagement Rings via Town & Country Magazine
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.
In case you missed it, check out our other episodes:
- Episode 29: Disrupting the Expensive Bridesmaid Dress Tradition
- Episode 30: Disrupting the Traditional Wedding Registry
- Episode 31: Even Celebrities Are Disrupting Traditional Weddings
- Episode 32: Disrupting Printed Wedding Invitations By Going Digital
- Episode 33: Ending Child Marriage
- Episode 34: Disrupting Expensive Wedding Decor with DIY
- Episode 35: Disrupting the Tradition of Buying Your Wedding Dress and Keeping It Forever
- Episode 36: Disrupting the Stressed-Out Bride Archetype
- Episode 37: Disrupting Bridal Shower & Bachelorette Party Traditions
- Episode 38: Disrupting The “Best Day of Your Life” Trope
- Episode 39: Disrupting The Exclusion of Disabled Couples by the Wedding Industry
- Episode 40: Disrupting The Stigma of Couples Therapy
- Episode 41: COVID Wedding Planning
- Episode 42: Your Wedding Vision
- Episode 43: Your Wedding Budget, Phase 1
- Episode 44: Your Wedding Budget, Phase 2
- Episode 45: Your Guest List
- Episode 46: Your Venue
- Episode 47: Your Wedding Invitations
- Episode 48: Your Wedding Day Look
- Episode 49: BONUS: Tossing Perfectionism From Wedding Planning
- Episode 50: The Wedding (formerly known as Bridal) Party
- Episode 51: Emotional Wedding Planning and Tossing Relationship Drama
- Episode 52: Wedding Photography and Videography
- Episode 53: Food, Beverage, and Cake The Savvy Way
- Episode 54: Accommodations, Transportation, and other Wedding Logistics
- Episode 55: Rentals, Decor, Flowers, and More!
- Episode 56: The Big Day Wedding Timeline and Survival Tips
- Episode 57: Why Prenuptial Agreements are so Savvy
- Episode 58: How to Hack Your Honeymoon and Earn ROI on Your Wedding Spending
- Episode 59: Why You Shouldn’t “Toss” Pre-Marital Counseling
- Episode 60: Wedding Day Hair with Joseph Maine
- Episode 61: Wedding Planning as the Groom and why it’s “Worth It” with Ryan Cabrera!!!
- Episode 62: Time and Money Hacks For Wedding Planning and Beyond