Origin of the Diamond Engagement Ring

Posted on Mar 03, 2010. 0 comments

Most GroomStand wedding origin stories don't come from cheery backgrounds. Let's face it, the deep roots of marriage are more sexist than Roger Sterling from Mad Men. But when it comes to the engagement ring, guys get the raw end of the deal.

The Idea of the Ring

The notion of a ring has long preceded the goodwill of a groomsmen gift. We try to vet our sources at GroomStand.com, but even this tid bit of history is hard to swallow. However, the Origin of the Ring is a fun story, so if it's not true, just pretend it's for entertainment purposes.

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Back in the day, it was common for "prehistoric man" to capture his bride and bound her arms and legs. The legend says that if the woman didn't struggle, her new caveman lover untied her legs and left the remaining cord tied to one of her fingers.

Using a Real Ring

The use of rings date back to Egypt. Gold was a common currency, and it was traditional for gold coins to be worn down in the middle, forming a ring shape. Placing a gold ring on a woman's hand was a form of payment (since you got to buy and sell women in those days) and signified that the lady was spoken for. The Egyptians and later the Romans, believed that the third finger on the left hand has a special vein that leads directly to the heart.

The Whole Diamond Thing

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Diamonds are the strongest element around. Before the 18th century, diamonds were a rare commodity and exclusively a symbol of the rich.

This all changed at the turn of the 19th century when good ole De Beers set up shop in South Africa. As the world found out diamonds aren't really all that rare, De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. snatched up the diamond monopoly and set the standards for pricing. If you watched Blood Diamond you're aware of this.

Why Diamonds Suck

Finding a diamond is a terrible mining process for the environment and the workers, but the pricing of the diamonds is total crap as well.

After WWII, the value of diamonds and platinum dropped almost 50%. The folks at De Beers came up with a brilliant plan. Just tell all the returning soldiers that an engagement ring should cost two months' salary. De Beers also came up with the advertising slogan "Diamonds are Forever," making these two marketing tools the gospel of engagement.

I don't know about you, but I feel used and abused by the diamond industry. I'm promising marriage. I'm dealing with her parents. I'm hesitantly agreeing to having sex with only one person for the rest of my life. Now I have to shell out my life savings because some guy picked an arbitrary amount of time for me to save for a ring?

The bottom line: Diamond engagement rings aren't some ancient tradition. It's just an awesome ad campaign that tricked us all for the last half century. At the very least, when you spend a little less on the ring, you'll have some extra dough for your groomsmen gifts.

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