When Did Engagement Rings Become A Tradition?

When Did Engagement Rings Become A Tradition?

The origin of engagement rings is a fascinating one. However, not many people know where the engagement ring tradition comes from. If you, like many others, are curious about the lore behind why we propose with an engagement ring, this is your lucky day! This article will detail the history of engagement rings and how they became the well-known tradition we know today.

What is the history of the engagement ring?

Ancient Rome

Many modern traditions can be attributed to ancient Roman engagement rings. Ancient Roman women were given ivory, flint, bone, copper, or iron rings to show business commitment or passion (GIA).

Middle ages

Archduke Maximilian of Austria ordered the first diamond ring in 1477 for Mary of Burgundy. Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a betrothal ring in 1477 in Vienna. This became the norm for engagement rings in the royal court. Wealthy Europeans propagated the tradition of engagement rings swiftly.


In the Enlightenment, gimmal rings symbolise love. Two or three hoops combine to make one ring. On rings, clasped hands represent a couple. Gold rings with inscriptions from courtship tales or chapbooks were popular in England between the 15th and 17th centuries.

Victorian period

Wealthy Victorians wore engagement rings. Industrialisation and diamond mining created jewellery. 1866: South Africa's diamond discovery. Five years after their 1867 discovery, South African diamond mines produced 1 million carats annually. Victorian dowries secured engagement rings, despite simple wedding bands being more popular. The rings were worn on the right hand before traditional weddings, changing it to the left.

20th Century

1840s America lacked engagement rings. The jeweller intended to add as many diamonds as possible to rings with huge centre stones. During this time, engagement rings included old European cut diamonds. From 1900-1930, spherical hand-cut stones were popular. 1920s fashion, art, and engagement rings evolved. Art deco designs replaced Edwardian-era flowery rings with angular lines and a large centre stone.

Present day

The engagement ring tradition, in which the man proposes to his spouse in a surprise proposal, continues today. Historically, it was common for males to wear engagement rings. Over ninety per cent of males present their loved ones with an engagement ring. In contrast, men do not receive rings until their wedding day.


The tradition of proposing with engagement rings is still very much alive, and most engaged couples anticipate receiving an engagement ring at some point in their relationship. Despite these differences throughout the years, one thing is sure: engagement rings have been worn for centuries and will undoubtedly remain to be a symbol of love for generations to come.