During the early twentieth century, diamonds were marketed to such an extent that presenting diamond rings to propose marriage became an established tradition. In the 1930s, diamond ring manufacturers first suggested that a man should spend two to three months' wages on an diamond engagement ring and seventy years later, the average cost of a diamond ring came closer to $3,000 (US dollars).
The Engagement Ring Finger
Engagement rings are commonly worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. The reason for this stemming from the belief that the vein in the left ring finger (the vena amoris) links directly to the heart. In some European countries, the engagement ring is transferred to the bride's other ring finger when a wedding ring takes its place.
From Thimbles to Diamonds
Up until the 19th century, many women in the United States received sewing thimbles from their fiances to mark their engagements. These were puritanical and practical times indeed, although it's said that some women removed the bottom of the thimbles to wear them as rings. Across the Atlantic, European women were given poesy or promise rings which signified fidelity and love, whilst women in Victorian England often received 'regard' rings set with birthstones.
When the diamond mines of South Africa were discovered, however, diamond rings
became more commonly given. In the 1930s, De Beers started to mass-market diamonds to boost a declining market and they truly came into their own as the stone of choice for engagement rings during the twentieth century. De Beers' marketing ensured that diamonds and diamond engagement rings became firmly-established as the symbols of love and romance, worn not only by the glamorous First Ladies of Hollywood, but coveted by women everywhere.
Popular Diamond Engagement Rings
Whilst diamond engagement rings can be designed in almost every style and shape, two particular designs have become 'classics': solitaire diamond rings and princess-cut diamond rings.