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Why Are Diamonds Forever?

Why Are Diamonds Forever?
In most Western cultures a diamond ring is viewed as the “must have” symbol of an engagement. Etiquette suggests that men wishing to pop the question need to buy a diamond ring, starting at around £1,500. So where does the tradition of the engagement ring come from and why are we willing to spend so much money? The ring has been a powerful symbol of “intention” since pre-history, when men would tie rings of braided grass around their mate’s wrists and ankles. Egyptians were buried wearing wire round their third finger. The Celtic claddagh ring may have evolved to symbolise love and commitment and romantic rings with clasped hands date back to the Roman Empire and signified eternity. It was one of the last Holy Roman Emperors, Maximilian I who gave the first recorded diamond engagement ring to Mary of Burgundy in 1477, but this did not become commonplace. During the nineteenth century diamond jewellery became more popular with the aristocracy and the Tiffany Setting, first designed in 1886, showed off the diamonds to maximise their brilliance. The attraction of diamonds was that they the hardest known natural substance and were very rare. This all changed with the discovery of huge diamond deposits in South Africa in 1867. With a large supply of diamonds rarity reduced and was no longer a selling point.. By the early twentieth century the South African Mines were owned by De Beers, who realised that, with an increased supply of diamonds, the only way to make money was to increase the demand. So a huge marketing campaign was launched. The most glamorous actresses on the 1930s, Ginger Rogers, Kathryn Hepburn and Bette Davis were seen on screen bedecked in diamonds. During the 1940s De Beers continued to link the diamond with glamour and “A Diamond is Forever” became their official slogan in 1947. The subsequent association with Marilyn Monroe and James Bond have firmly cemented the desirability and durability of diamonds into the psyche, making the diamond ring a tradition, particularly in the USA. There have been, and still are, plenty of alternatives to the diamond ring. The aforementioned Claddagh ring continues to be a popular Irish engagement ring. The Victorians used a wide variety of gems in their jewellery and these can still be sourced in antique sales. Silver poesy rings, inscribed with romantic words, were popular in Europe in the nineteenth century and continue to be designed today. A number of semi-precious stones are also used as engagement rings in other cultures. Jade is particularly popular in China and Vietnam as it is seen as the love stone, bringing happiness and long marriage. Turquoise is used by Native Americans to connect the partners together. In mythology aquamarine was given by Neptune to the mermaids to symbolise his eternal love and affection. Topaz was adopted by Russian czarinas as it ensures fidelity and garnet is also seen as an auspicious stone to use in an engagement ring. Whatever you choose to symbolise your engagement, we wish you happiness in both your engagement and forthcoming marriage.