The history of engagement rings dates back to ancient times, with different cultures having their own unique traditions and customs surrounding this symbol of love and commitment. 

In this blog post, we will explore the evolution of engagement rings and the meanings behind them throughout the centuries.

Ancient times

One of the earliest examples of engagement rings can be traced back to ancient Egypt. The Egyptians believed that the ring finger on the left hand had a special vein, known as the “vein of love,” that ran directly to the heart. 

They would use a variety of materials to make rings, including braided reeds and hemp. The rings were not only a symbol of love and commitment but were also believed to have magical powers that would protect the couple from evil spirits.

The ancient Romans also had their own traditions surrounding engagement rings. 

They believed that the ring was a symbol of ownership and would often use an iron ring as a symbol of their commitment. 

The iron ring was a symbol of strength and durability, which was fitting for the idea of eternal commitment. The Romans also used gold and silver rings, which were more expensive and reserved for the upper classes.

The Middle Ages

In 1477, the first diamond engagement ring was given to Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximillian of Austria. 

The diamond, a symbol of everlasting love and commitment, became increasingly popular among the European elite. However, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that diamonds became more widely available and affordable for the average person. 

This was due to the discovery of diamond mines in South Africa, which greatly increased the supply of diamonds on the market.

The Victorian Era

During this time, engagement rings became a symbol of social status and wealth. The rings were often heavily embellished with intricate designs and precious stones. 

One of the most popular styles of the time was the “mine cut” diamond, which was cut in a deep, round shape. 

The rise of the middle class during this time also led to more people being able to afford engagement rings, and they became an essential part of a couple’s courtship.

The Twentieth Century

The Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s saw a shift in the design of engagement rings. 

The focus was on geometric shapes and clean lines, with the use of coloured stones becoming more popular. 

The use of platinum as the metal of choice also became popular during this time, as it was a more durable and long-lasting metal.

After World War II, engagement ring styles shifted towards more traditional and classic designs. The round diamond solitaire ring became the most popular style and remains so today. 

In the 1960s, a new cut of diamond was introduced, the brilliant cut, which is characterised by its many facets and ability to reflect light. This cut quickly became popular and is now the most common cut for diamonds.


The modern era of engagement rings has seen a wide range of styles and designs. From the traditional round diamond solitaire to more contemporary designs that incorporate different shapes and coloured stones. 

The use of alternative materials such as titanium, tungsten, and stainless steel has also become increasingly popular. Many people also choose to personalise their engagement ring with engravings or special designs.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend toward ethically-sourced and eco-friendly engagement rings. This includes the use of recycled metals, and conflict-free diamonds, as well as the use of alternative materials such as wood, and lab-created diamonds.

Eternally Yours

Engagement rings have a rich history that spans thousands of years and across different cultures. 

Throughout the centuries, they have evolved from simple rings made of braided reeds to the diamond-studded, complex designs of today. The one constant throughout history is the symbolism of love and commitment, which has never changed. 

How Will You Celebrate Your Love?

Engagement rings continue to be a symbol of love and commitment, and choosing the right ring for your loved one is an important step in any couple’s journey together.

Let Martin’s of Glasgow be a part of that journey. Trust us to help you design the perfect symbol of your love for each other. Contact us today  at 0141 946 6333.