The History of Engagement Rings

History of Engagement Rings
Worthy Staff

By Worthy Staff | Oct 23rd, 2016

It is tradition that when a woman becomes engaged, she often wears a ring to signify that she will soon be married. Today, we view this concept as something that a couple simply does as part of the entire marriage tradition. However, there is more to the history of engagement rings than one may assume. In fact, there are many theories about how engagement rings first came into play dating back as far as the cavemen days. Here, we will take a deeper look into the engagement ring history, how the custom began, and why we continue it today.

Engagement Ring Origin

There are certainly many theories when it comes to the origin of the engagement ring. Reports state that cavemen would tie braided grass to the ankles of their mates as a way to capture their spirit. There are stories of Egyptians being buried with a ring on their third finger because it links directly to the heart. Other studies indicate that engagement rings became most popular as a Roman custom. Women wore rings attached to keys as a way to publicly show that their husbands owned them. Keep in mind that during this period, women were often given away by their fathers in return for a dowry which included various goods and money. Initially, the engagement ring expressed that the woman belonged to a man as a way to inform other suitors that she was no longer available for courtship. While the exact date of when engagement rings began may differ based on which report you read, one thing is for sure; the earliest explanations described ownership and the legal responsibility between a man and a woman.

The History of Engagement Rings

With such a history, you may wonder why we continue the tradition at all. It may have something to do with how the engagement ring evolved over time and became more about a symbol of love rather than ownership or legal binding.

The First Diamond Engagement Ring

Diamonds became a part of the engagement ring story during a very particular time in history. As the ring took on a more personalized tone, it also transformed into a token of commitment and true love.

The First Diamond Engagement Ring
Mary of Burgundy (1458-1482), wearing her engagement ring, portrayed by painter Niklas Reiser.

In 1477 Archduke Maximillian of Austria had a diamond ring made for his soon-to-be bride, Mary of Burgundy. This milestone sparked interest in other people gravitating to diamonds until eventually, it became the go-to choice for many who were set to be married. Over time, other embellishments and gems were added to the mix. Victorians shaped the rings into flowers, dubbing them as “Posey rings.” As the diamond ring evolved into more cuts and styles, more and more people were able to find an engagement ring that suited their particular taste. Men became more concerned with finding the ring that captured his future wife’s personality and preference.

Diamond Ring Cuts

Before the Middle Ages, diamond cutting did not exist. Instead, the precious gemstones were fashioned in their natural state. However, as they became more popular in jewelry, more thought was given to its appearance. The very first improvement to diamonds was not cutting. Instead, it was polishing. However, to make the appearance even more appealing, simple cuts started to become more common. Now, there are a variety of diamond cut options to match different personal styles and taste.

The Engagement Ring Now

While the history of engagement rings may spark controversy, nowadays their concept is clearly the display of love and lifetime of togetherness. Today there is an incredibly wide variety of engagement rings available that range from a simple round cut solitaire ring to more sophisticated cuts like emerald or pear. The different setting designs also prove that the engagement ring has evolved to fit every woman’s style. Take a look at the engagement rings recently sold at!

engagement rings today

Worthy Staff

Worthy Staff

The Worthy Blog is a place for inspiration, insight, and advice for all things surrounding life's greatest transitions - divorce, losing a loved one, retirement, and so much more. You can find us on our blog, Instagram, and Facebook.


©2011-2024 Worthy, Inc. All rights reserved.
Worthy, Inc. operates from 25 West 45th St., 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10036