"Diamonds are a girl's best friend”, - sang Marilyn Monroe in the famous film "Gentlemen prefer Blondes!" - causing admiration from audiences across America and Europe and inspiring women to cast meaningful glances upon their husbands and boyfriends.
It is known that the tradition of engagement rings is an ancient matter. We talked about this in a separate blog. But since when does the engagement ring contain a diamond, or even more than one?
The first known case of the engagement ring with a diamond dates back to the end of the 15th century, when the Grand Duke Maximilian of Austria commissioned such a ring for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy.
However, despite the fact that Maximilian and Mary were a celebrity of their era, this incident remained just an episode in history, without creating a tradition. After that, for many years, engagement rings were very diverse, with no traces of standardization or generally accepted appearances. Victorians and Edwardians often combined different semiprecious and precious stones, which were of different colors and often represented in the form of romantic flowers or petals.
Almost 500 years after Maximilian's gift, in 1947, the brilliant advertisement slogan of De Beers "A diamond is forever" cardinally changed society's view of the engagement ring and how it should look.
De Beers, the company of the famous South African mine owner Cecil Rhodes, was engaged in mining, processing, and selling diamonds for years. By that point De Beers had already successfully influenced the masses to believe in the importance of using beautiful diamonds in engagement rings. The history of the company's appearance is interesting and educational, but now we are talking about something else:). In order to increase sales, De Beers started creating and promoting the tradition of expensive rings from the mid 1920s. In the 1930s, they actively educated the population that a man should spend the equivalent of his monthly salary on an engagement ring. After a while, this amount increased to a two-month salary.
But it was the slogan "A diamond is forever" that led to the brilliant success to the sales of engagement rings. The diamond, like no other stone, symbolized the eternity and strength of a marriage union, and it became clear that if the diamond was forever, then the marriage was also forever, and this appealed to public morality and strengthened the institution of marriage. Advertisements shamelessly used famous Hollywood stars, decorating them in diamonds in films and during interviews. The public actively attended movie theaters, watched movies, and read the newspapers, watching their idols give rings with huge sparkling stones to their future wives on screen or in real life. Within three years, diamond sales grew by 50%.
To diversify the choice, jewelers began to offer diamonds of different cuts. So far, the most popular is the Round cut with 58 polished faucets, as well as the Princess, Emerald, and Oval cuts, which are also popular. In addition to the various shapes, sizes, quality, and quantity of stones surrounding the main diamond, different shades of gold and platinum have gone into business of making the bands. Today, the market of engagement rings is diverse and huge, and these rings are popular staples not only in Europe, but also in Japan and China.
De Beers came to Japan in the late 1960s, with slogans about diamond engagement rings as the dream of every modern and free woman of the West. Japanese women, who in those years did not have the freedom to choose their husbands (most marriages were arranged by the parents), but apparently secretly wanting some freedom, took the ring as its symbol. As a result, the diamond ring market in Japan soon came in second place to the United States. China is now also rapidly catching up.
Today, three-quarters of brides in the United States wear diamond engagement rings, the median cost of which, according to statistics, is about $4,000.
Some people wear more expensive rings, some others less. Some simply go without diamonds. The main thing and the most important, as we all know, of course, is not the ring, but love!
Photo credits: Jules Bower at www.jules-photographer.com
Opening (b&w) picture: Alex&Co Jewelers, alexandcompany.com
Information sources: Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_of_Burgundy