Jewellers sell the stuff of dreams, facilitating some of the most important moments in a person’s life. One such moment is the proposal of marriage, usually highlighted by the presentation of a diamond engagement ring. The first ring of this type is thought to have been presented to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 by none other than future Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I. The first diamond engagement ring symbolized love and commitment, just as today’s versions do.
The tradition of a ring signifying love began in ancient Egypt. To the Egyptians, because a ring had no beginning and no end, it was an appropriate representation of everlasting love. Similarly, the Romans believed a vein from the fourth finger on the left hand ran directly to the heart. This was the vena amoris (i.e. vein of love) and the origin of the tradition of wearing engagement and wedding rings on this finger. The wedding ring is slipped on first in a position closest to the heart, followed by the diamond engagement ring symbolizing the promise.