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Wedding Rings and Things - from Will You to I Do

 History of Diamonds, Engagement Rings and Things

The tradition of giving a diamond engagement ring as a promise for marriage began in 1477 with Archduke Maximilian of Austria presenting a gold ring set with a diamond as a token of his love to Mary of Burgundy.

During that era, diamonds were viewed as charms that could enhance the love of a husband for his wife. Even Cupid's arrows were said to be tipped with diamonds and thus an unequaled magical power.

The root of the word diamond is "Adamas," the Greek word meaning unconquerable and indestructible.

Wearing a diamond ring on the fourth finger of the left hand dates far back to ancient Egypt, where it was believed that the vena amoris (the vein of love) ran from that finger directly to the heart.

Diamonds have been sought the world over, fought over, worshipped and used to cast love spells from the earliest of times. It actually wasn't until the discovery of diamond mines on the African continent in 1870 that diamonds became accessible to a wider public, increasing demand and influencing design.

For thousands of years, some form of magic was attributed to diamonds for Kings, Queens and their subjects. Diamonds stood for wealth, power, love, spiritual and magical powers. In battle, ancient Kings wore heavy leather breast plates studded with diamonds and other precious stones. The Greeks believed that diamonds were teardrops of the Gods and the fire in the diamond reflected the constant flame of love. Romans considered diamonds to be fragments of tumbling stars.

Diamonds were deemed to possess magical qualities of the Gods and hold powers far beyond the understanding of common men. Because of these beliefs, warriors on the battlefield avoided Kings and others who were fortunate enough to posses breast plates embedded with magical diamonds.

The smallest betrothal ring on record was given to two year old Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. When she became engagedt to the infant Dauphin of France, son of King Francis I, in 1518, a tiny gold ring, set with a valuable diamond, was fitted to her finger.

Small numbers of diamonds began appearing in European regalia and jewelry in the 13th century, set as accent points among pearls in splendid wrought gold. By the 16th century the diamonds become larger and more prominent, in response to the development of diamond faceting, which enhanced their brilliance and fire. Diamonds came to dominate small jewels during the 17th century and large ones by the 18th century. They ultimately supplanted the gold settings in visual impact, so gold was replaced with the more sympathetically colored metal, silver, and, later, platinum. Saint Louis (Louis IX of France, 1214-70) established a law reserving diamonds for the king indicating the rarity of diamonds and the value conferred on them at that time. Within 100 years diamonds appeared in royal jewelry of both men and women. Later they appeared among the greater European aristocracy, with the wealthy classes obtaining the occasional diamond by the 17th century.

Currently, more than 6.7 billion dollars is spent annually on engagement rings in the United States, they come in every shape and size - any setting imaginable.

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Engagement Rings & Things: History of Diamonds and Engagement Rings - all about the engagement ring from the first diamond engagement ring to current trends...