The History of the Engagement Ring 

FashionJewelleryMarch 19, 2020

It’s been years full of royal weddings again, so it’s only natural that we’ve been talking about engagement rings and their history! One of the most incredible engagement rings we saw last year was the 40-carat diamond ring Prince Jean Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte gave his then-fiancée. The gem is even bigger than the famous diamond on one of Elizabeth Taylor’s engagement rings! Besides being huge and having historical value, Bonaparte’s bauble has an unbelievable story too. Read in our article Prince Napoleon Bonaparte about to marry Austrian Countess Olympia von Arco-Zinneberg, how this engagement ring was stolen before the wedding.

The history of the engagement ring

The history of diamond engagement rings dates back to 1477. It was then that Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a ring with diamonds in the shape of an M to his bride-to-be, Mary of Burgundy. But some say the Austrian Archduke wasn’t the first to like it and put a ring on it. As a matter of fact, the cavemen already wore rings made of grass to claim their mates!

Solitaire rings

In 1886, Tiffany came up with the famous Solitaire engagement ring. It consists of a single -and usually round- sparkling diamond set on a delicate gold band. Cartier’s Solitaire engagement rings have also been a classic since 1895. Solitaire rings have since become the first choice for engagements because they are elegant and atemporal. And because, as De Beers so cleverly put it, ”a diamond is forever,” as should be the marriage you’re about to step into.

Royal rings

An engagement ring can be a classic solitaire or any other unique ring with beautiful stones. The groom can design the jewel like for example, the one Anthony Armstrong-Jones created for Princess Margaret back in the ’60s. He designed a big Ruby surrounded by diamonds made to look like a rosebud. But the engagement ring can also be a family heirloom.

Queen Elizabeth and Hollywood

Photos @royalfamily

Queen Elizabeth, received from Prince Phillip a discreet and elegant  3-carat round-cut diamond engagement ring with ten smaller diamonds. The Queen’s ring is tiny when compared to some American stars’ engagement rings. For example, Beyonce’s 18-carat emerald cut diamond ring or Kim Kardashian’s 15-carat diamond ring. Although relatively modest for a future queen of England, the diamonds of Queen Elizabeth’s ring are full of meaning. Not to mention the sentimental and historical value. The gemstones came from a diamond tiara that Prince Phillip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was given on her wedding day. The ring with which Prince Phillip proposed in 1946 was made by jewellers Philip Antrobus Ltd. 

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Photo @kensingtonroyal 

The queen’s grandson, Prince William, gave his girlfriend, Kate Middleton, the engagement ring that Prince Charles had given Princess Diana when he proposed. It’s a 12-carat blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds, which made the cluster style rings so popular again.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Photo @kensingtonroyal 

His brother, Prince Harry, preferred to design himself the ring for his fiancée. He chose an ethically sourced diamond from Botswana, where they went on a camping trip together and fell in love. Additionally, two smaller stones belonging to the late Princess Diana. The result is a very personal and beautiful ring, full of meaning and memories, even though its value is estimated to be half of Eugenie’s engagement jewel. 

Princess Eugenie

Photo @princesseugenie

The daughter of Sarah Fergusson and Prince Andrew was given a stunning pink Padparadscha sapphire with ten diamonds around, including two pear-shaped diamonds. Her engagement bling reminds the red ruby and diamond ring her mother received from Prince Andrew in 1986. The pink Padparadscha sapphire is found in Sri Lanka and is one of the rarest and most valuable sapphires. This explains why Eugenie’s ring is estimated at US$ 175,112.

Princess Beatrice

Photo @kensingtonroyal 

Princess Beatrice of York, Eugenie’s sister, also got a beautiful ring. Her then-fiancé, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, designed the engagement ring together with jeweller Shaun Leane. Leane is well-known for having created many catwalk pieces for the late Alexander McQueen. The ring has a large central diamond and smaller ones on the pavé-style band. From all the royal engagement rings, Beatrice’s is the most similar, in style, to the Queen’s ring. 

Elizabeth Taylor

Photos by Toni Frissell via Wikimedia and Christie’s

But when it comes to impressive gemstones, Elizabeth Taylor’s 33.19-carat diamond ring is one of the biggest jewels ever. Having been married eight times, twice to Richard Burton, the jewellery collection the star amassed included several engagement rings. Richard Burton gave her the most famous one, which sold for $8.8 million, according to Forbes, in an auction in 2011 at Christie’s.

No matter what size, design or value, an engagement ring is always a beautiful piece of jewellery that makes us dream, as it symbolises love, commitment and the promise of two lives that will be united forever.

Have a look at the history of the cocktail ring. Tchim-tchim, diamonds!

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