When Did Diamonds Become Popular?

A diamond held in a pair of needle-nose jewelry pliers.

If you know anything about romance, jewelry, or marriage, you likely understand at least a little regarding the significance of diamonds. It’s frequently said that “diamonds are forever,” and they play a massive role in the progression of people’s relationships together. However, have you ever paused to consider why they are so important and how they came to be that way? Why are diamonds the go-to stone for engagement rings, and will that be changing at any point soon?

Below, our artisan jewelry experts from LaCkore Couture will explore the history of diamonds and explain why, when, and how they became so important to the foundational ideas of modern romance. Please continue reading to find out more, and also consider looking through our wide selection of other expertly written resources to advance your knowledge on essential jewelry topics.

Related: A Guide to Antique Diamonds


A Brief History of Diamonds

Diamonds are one of the most frequently used gemstones in jewelry creation in the current era. While they have been popular since before the 19th century among the world’s elite, their contemporary cultural significance truly took off back in 1947 after the launch of a successful advertising campaign by De Beers. This renowned British company is well known for mining diamonds and creating some of the finest diamond jewelry on the market. Additionally, they are mainly responsible for the overall societal importance given to diamonds today.

Their slogan “A diamond is forever” revolutionized the diamond world by creating a desire and a need for diamond engagement rings as a symbol of enduring love and commitment. Before their campaign, diamond engagement rings weren’t the norm. Pope Nicholas I proclaimed that engagement rings signified a man’s intent to marry back in 850, and gold engagement rings were the general custom due to their massive popularity.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING HISTORY

Many anthropologists believe diamond engagement rings originated from the Ancient Roman custom of wives wearing rings to signify love and mutual respect. These rings were often made of ivory, bone, flint, or copper.

It is documented that the first diamond engagement ring was given in 1477 by Archduke Maximillion of Austria to his beloved partner Mary of Burgundy. On the ring were elongated diamonds that were mounted onto the ring in the shape of an “M.”

Throughout the Victorian era from 1837-1901, engagement rings were often crafted using diamonds, gemstones, enamel, and precious metals. Because these rings were shaped like flowers, they were often referred to as “posy” rings.

The Emergence of Diamond Engagement Rings

An ornate engagement ring with several diamonds.

Only about 10% of first-time brides received diamond engagement rings in 1940, which skyrocketed to about 80% in 1990 due to De Beers’ advertising efforts. During that time, diamond sales in the U.S. increased from only $23 million to more than $2.1 billion. Their campaign managed to largely upend centuries of engagement traditions in only a few decades, pushing diamonds to the center of the romantic stage.

The campaign’s primary idea involved how men could make two months of their salary last forever- leading to the famous slogan noted above. This genius marketing move romanticized the need for diamond engagement rings and put a price tag on them that set a persisting standard for how much men should spend on engagement rings to prove their love. Even today, many sources claim you should spend at least two to three months’ salary on the ring you intend to propose with. 

The amount of money that a person spends on an engagement ring has since developed a profound social significance regarding love and class status. Some women even have specific requirements regarding what they expect their significant other to spend on rings, which can sometimes reach upwards of several thousands of dollars. As of 2022, the national average cost of an engagement ring in the U.S. is around $6,000.

Stellar jewelry doesn’t always require the presence of diamonds or other fancy gemstones to help you look spectacular! Many of the top-quality, hand-crafted pieces from our artisans at LaCkore Couture are designed to provide your style with a splash of unique yet straightforward elegance.

The Evolution of Diamond Engagement Rings

Since the famous 1947 ad campaign that brought diamond rings into the spotlight, the engagement ring craze has only continued to evolve with new traditions and popular trends. For example, many modern brides have chosen to broaden their preferences to include more exotic, unique, and extravagant diamond engagement ring options. Some choose to combine other colored gemstones into their rings alongside unusual metals. Additionally, many men now choose to wear “mangagement” rings alongside their brides-to-be.

There have also been many significant changes to how many people choose to wear their engagement rings. While it’s tradition for brides to wear their engagement ring on the fourth finger of their left hand, many now choose to wear it on their right hand. Many women also choose to go with specialized rings that combine their engagement ring and wedding band into a single piece. 

EVOLUTION OF DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING SHAPES AND CUTS

As diamond engagement rings have evolved, so have the shapes and sizes of the diamonds and their cuts. As a result, the diamonds placed on engagement rings have become larger and flashy than the rings from hundreds of years ago.

Similar to clothing trends, trends among diamond engagement rings have come and gone. In the 1920s, square-cut diamonds featuring a diamond halo were all the rage. While in the 1930s, rings were often crafted in the shapes of ribbons or bows and lined with diamonds.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, round or pear-shaped rings grew in popularity and were often the rings of choice for those looking to propose. Unfortunately, the prices of these popular shapes quickly grew.

During the 80s and 90s, engagement rings using brightly colored gemstones or dyed diamonds with geometrical shapes surged in popularity. During this period, Marquise-shaped diamonds were a popular choice.

Related: What is The Average Size of Engagement Rings?

The Popularity of Modern Day Diamond Engagement Rings

A woman wearing a large diamond engagement ring.

Today, diamonds are constantly mined throughout South Africa, Russia, Australia, Botswana, and other locations, and many more are created via artificial means in specialized laboratories. The popularity of diamonds has proven itself a highly resilient trend that is not anticipated to end soon. They are still one of the most common stones used in jewelry production- especially engagement rings. At his point, it’s become the unwritten rule of proposal etiquette that engagement rings should feature diamonds.

And by creating artificial diamonds, these rings have become more accessible and affordable today, making it possible for brides to have their dream engagement rings without breaking the bank. As mentioned above, men should spend two to three months' salary on a diamond engagement ring. The option of an artificial ring brings the possibility of a beautiful ring without spending above one’s means. 

But even with the surge in artificial diamonds, natural diamonds still and probably always will hold the most popular place among diamond engagement rings. 

POPULAR SHAPES OF MODERN-DAY ENGAGEMENT RINGS 

Throughout the evolution of diamond engagement rings, the popularity of certain shapes has come and gone. Currently, the most popular choices for the shapes of diamond engagement rings are oval-shaped or cushion-cut diamonds which are featured on a thin band

These rings first gained popularity in the 2010s and are still a favorite choice today. You can often see celebrities like Hailey Baldwin or Julianne Hugh wearing these styles of diamond engagement rings. 

Recently, custom-made rings have become popular as brides look to have rings that showcase their personality and individualism. You can’t go wrong having a custom-designed ring for your future spouse. 

One thing that hasn’t changed throughout history is the materials used to craft the bands. Diamond engagement rings have almost always been crafted using a gold band. Thinner gold bands are often used with engagement rings today. 

Related: The History of Men’s Jewelry

Final Factors to Consider

The history of diamonds and their rapid popularity growth for engagement rings in the 20th century is fascinating. Few could have ever predicted that a single advertising campaign could kickstart a massive shift in social perceptions and expectations. Our artisan jewelry experts at LaCkore Couture sincerely hope that the above guide has helped answer some of your essential questions regarding diamonds’ current emphasis and role in the engagement process. Please consider exploring our shop today, which features an extensive array of handmade rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.

Diamonds are beautiful, but they aren’t always needed to make a great piece of unique jewelry that people will love. Consider exploring the vast array of spectacular, hand-crafted pieces from our jewelry artisans at LaCkore Couture today to find your next favorite accessory.