The reason is not as romantic as you might have hoped.
We all know that weddings are packed with weird and wonderful traditions – just last week we found out the slightly strange reason that bridesmaids wear the same colour.
And now it’s been revealed exactly why we wear diamond engagement rings, and the reason is not as romantic as you might have hoped.
The first bride on record to receive a dazzling rock on her engagement was the Archduke Maximillian of Austria’s bride-to-be in 1477.
But it was a slightly cynical marketing ploy by jewellery giant DeBeers in the 1930s that made the giving of diamond rings a worldwide trend. Mental Floss reports that DeBeers were out to manipulate the price and demand for diamonds after huge new mines were discovered in South Africa at the end of the 19th century. By convincing consumers that the stones were still rare and valuable, they were able to secure their investments and buoy prices in the trade.
DeBeers hired a top advertising agency to make the diamond a status symbol in New York, and women around the world copied the trend. The winning slogan? ‘A Diamond Is Forever’ declared by the N.W. Ayer agency in the 1940s. Now diamond rings are seen as family heirlooms, also a ploy by the ad firms to make the stones seem irreplaceable and timeless.
If you’re saddened by all of this corporate manipulation, there is one thing to consider as consolation. Before DeBeers came along, you wouldn’t have got a nice diamond, and if we’d have stuck with a tradition from the 1800s, you could have been given a thimble with the end chopped off.
We know which one we’d prefer.