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An engaging history…

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many people choose this time to propose and some clients may have additional diamonds on their fingers. Have you ever wondered how the whole tradition of engagement rings began?

Our use of rings, goes back as far as the Stone Age and Egyptian remains have been discovered with silver and gold wire rings wrapped around the same finger we use to this day. This particular finger was, at one time, believed to contain a vein that led to the heart (the vena amoris).

It is not until Roman times that the history of the engagement ring can be reliably traced. Roman brides were given two rings, an iron one to wear at home whilst attending to household chores and a gold ring which was worn in public.

It wasn’t until the DeBeers campaign of 1947 when the slogan “A Diamond is Forever” was introduced that diamonds became seen as essential – as in 1939 only 10% of engagement rings had diamonds but by 1990 it was 80%.

It was also DeBeers marketing department who were responsible for the idea that a man should spend a certain proportion of his wages on the diamond. In the 1930s they suggested the equivalent of one month’s wages but this was soon doubled to two months’ in a bid to increase sales.

So, for all you romantics out there who are wanting to propose, let’s hope you choose a precious metal…and not iron!

By Clare Carby

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