The Evolution of the Engagement Ring

Posted by JewelryKind

Today, the engagement ring is seen as a beautiful symbol of burgeoning love. The diversity in trends has seen engagement rings take on various styles from yellow gold to white gold, round diamonds to oval diamonds, and to unique rings that carry particular sentimental value. But how did it start? How did it get to the point where we now have three-stone settings and tiny gemstones embedded around the entire ring? Before you start browsing for your ideal ring at Tacori from Whiteflash, join us as we look at the evolution of the engagement ring over the ages.

Early Years and Meanings

The Romans were one of the earliest cultures to embrace the tradition of engagement rings, with the bride receiving two rings (gold for outerwear and iron when at home). But diamond rings weren’t prominent. That is, until 1477 when Archduke Maximillian of Austria commissioned a diamond engagement ring for his betrothed Mary of Burgundy. The result had a surge in popularity for engagement rings across European aristocracy and nobility.

During Shakespeare’s lifetime, he often made reference to engagement rings in several of his plays. And over the 1700s, rings and their surrounding sentiments were often included in poetry and prose.

Victorian Takeoff

Victorian England was seen as a sentimental period, spearheaded by the passionate love shared between Queen Victoria and her husband Albert. This sentiment would be reflected in the extravagant engagement ring designs of the era. The rings would feature romantic motifs such as hearts, flowers, and bows. During this time, diamond engagement rings were finally given their time to shine due to the discovery of a large deposit of diamonds in countries such as South Africa.

Edwardian Equality

It was the Edwardian Era which saw engagement rings become a more accessible custom to the middle class. The new market for rings saw even more varied designs appear, with many popular styles containing diamonds in lacy and ornate platinum designs.

But, from the 1920s onwards, each decade saw a different ring style dominate the market.


Engagement rings took on a less-feminine look, becoming geometric by comparison. The most popular rings among couples were Emerald cut and Asscher diamonds, with the more opulent rings accentuated with diamond halos.


These rings moved beyond the Art Deco period, with the round cut becoming quite popular. This popularity was aided by curving features such as ribbons and bows.


The round cut maintained popularity moving into the 1940s, and diamond rings as a whole received a large sales boost after De Beer’s “Diamonds Are Forever” campaign in 1947. As a result of the lack of platinum during World War II, yellow gold and rose gold rings were most dominant.


Pear cuts took popularity due to the added focus on detail, now featuring engravings and braided elements. Stackable rings were also in fashion, thanks to Audrey Hepburn’s engagement ring.


The Asscher cut returned to prominence thanks to the return of Art Deco. Other pivotal engagement rings that influenced trends were Elizabeth Taylor’s Asscher ring and Jackie Kennedy’s ring, which featured emeralds and coloured gemstones.


Emerald rings became more popular, with brides seeking yellow gold and rose gold rings to match their engagement rings with their wedding bands.


The round cut once again took center stage due to Princess Diana’s sapphire ring, with a focus on coloured gemstones and yellow gold bands.


The marquise cut, known for its bold edges and sharp look, became popular to reflect the grunge aesthetic of the period. Yellow gold began to fade into the background in lieu of white gold and platinum bands.


The princess cut took prominence due to its modern and geometric shape and couples favoured three-stone rings with an emphasised, larger center stone.


The cushion cut was widely lauded while diamond halo rings made a return, used to enhance the size of the center stone.

The history of the diamond engagement ring is a fascinating one, and with the many innovations and fashions influencing their aesthetic, they look to have a bright future ahead.

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