Glossary

Engagement ring

Given by one party to the other to mark an accepted proposal of marriage, traditionally and still most commonly, a man giving the ring to a woman. The practice has evolved over centuries – the first recording of rings to symbolise upcoming nuptials are during Roman times when a man would give his future wife an iron ring to wear at home, and a more decorative gold ring for occasions, both symbolising his ownership of her. Diamond rings were given as far back as 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented a decorative diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy to mark their betrothal. Although their popularity is a modern construct, the result of an inventive marketing campaign cooked up by De Beers in the 1940s, increasing diamond sales with the slogan ‘A Diamond Is Forever’.

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