An engagement ring, both in its modern as well as archaic connotations, served as the outward symbol of a woman’s commitment and avowal to a particular man. Though engagement rings have undergone innumerable changes in its appearance over the centuries, the concept remains popular even now.  
From the prehistoric practice of cave dwellers tying strings of braided grass around the waist, wrists, and ankle of his chosen mate to the proposal of Archduke Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy with a ring designed with diamonds in the shape of “M” in the fifteenth century – engagement rings enjoy quite an exciting and action-packed history. Coinciding with the times when innovative cutting techniques of diamond were invented, the first recorded report of a diamond engagement ring is attributed to this enterprising archduke in 1477. 
By the end of the nineteenth century, ‘engagement rings’ as we know them today became quite common. Set with a single piece of pearl or the finest gemstone afforded by the groom, such rings signaled a couple’s intent of marriage after a phase of engagement. Such rings were usually substituted with simple gold bands inscribed with the couple’s initials and the day of the ceremony. 
The pre-eminence of diamond engagement rings were fueled by the discovery of vast diamond deposits in South Africa and Brazil during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, most affluent couples in fact preferred precious colored gemstones such as sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. 
The diamond engagement ring came to prominence not until a novel and extensive marketing blitzkrieg by De Beers Mining Company which controlled nearly ninety per cent of the global diamond production by 1883. This campaign gave us the ubiquitous phrase – ‘A diamond is forever’ that managed to become a universal aphorism for the diamond industry. The De Beers advertising campaign was needed to bolster public interest and consequently the price of large volumes of diamonds that suddenly inundated the market.  
Tiffany & Co. introduced the pioneering ‘Tiffany setting’, a diamond solitaire ring where the raised centre stone is mounted on six prongs to offer maximized brilliance. Traditional yet affordable wedding rings along with diamond engagement rings appeared in mail-order catalogs like Sears & Roebuck. Cartier came up with their unique Trinity Ring with intertwined bands of white, pink, and yellow gold. 
The twentieth century has been overwhelmingly dominated by all things diamond. The growing trend has seen the arrival of precious colored gemstones as the new path breakers in an industry still ruled by the almighty diamond.

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Posted by Roy Izakov.
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