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The History of Diamonds in Engagement and Wedding Rings

Although there are plenty of other stones to choose from, the typical customer visiting Engage Diamond Studio in Toronto will be looking at a diamond for an engagement or wedding ring. Diamonds are now considered the standard for such jewellery. That was not always the case, though, as the introduction of diamonds into the jewellery market dates back to the late 19th century while jewellery itself has been around for millennia.

History records the ancient Egyptians giving engagement rings, for example. They used silver or gold wire jewellery that would show betrothed women were ‘off the market’, so to speak. Asian cultures introduced puzzle rings while the Greeks and Romans preferred iron. The point here is that engagement and wedding rings have been part of many cultures around the world for as long as history records.

So how did the diamond become the standard? It all dates back to the discovery of Africa’s massive diamond mines in the late 1800s. When those mines were discovered, they gave birth to the well-known DeBeers company we now associate with the diamond market.

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Diamonds Are for Everyone

Prior to the establishment of DeBeers, diamonds were rare stones that were extremely hard to come by. As such, only the wealthiest of the wealthy could afford them. Average consumers on the street would opt for jewellery that either had no stones or included more affordable stones that were common for the day. That changed when the Cape Colony (South Africa) diamond supply was discovered in the late 1860s.

The Cape Colony discovery led to the discovery of even more diamond supplies and the eventual establishment of DeBeers in 1880. Suddenly, the diamond market was flooded and prices fell dramatically. DeBeers immediately embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign to convince the world that diamonds were now for everyone. Prices had fallen far enough that even the typical commoner could afford one. However, diamonds were still not the stone of choice for engagement and wedding rings.

Coming to America

The turn of the 20th century saw a gradual decline in the price of diamonds in response to consumer demands for more ornamental bands and settings that made gemstones less prominent. At the same time, diamond supplies were also beginning to fall. DeBeers didn’t waste time in implementing a new ad campaign. In 1938, they decided to go after the American market which was as yet untapped. Working with a New York ad agency, they put together a campaign so effective that diamond sales grew more than 50% in the first three years.

In 1947, DeBeers launched a new ad campaign that would cement the diamond as the go-to stone for engagement rings and wedding bands. From that campaign came the now famous slogan “a diamond is forever.” With that slogan, and very effective ads portraying the diamond as a symbol of undying love, the engagement ring segment saw diamond sales go through the roof. By 1950, it was apparent that an engagement ring or wedding band just wasn’t the same if a diamond was not involved.

The diamond remains the standard for engagement and wedding jewellery though traditional white diamonds are negotiable. Consumers have a full range of colour choices if they want to shake things up a bit. For example, yellow diamonds are very popular.

Here at Engage Diamond Studio, we are thrilled to be able to create custom engagement and wedding jewellery featuring some of the most beautiful diamonds in the world. We invite you to visit our studio before you make your next jewellery purchase.

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