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Engagement Ring Styles Through the Ages: An Evolution in Design

Written by Anna Currell
May 3, 2023

Throughout history, people have worn and exchanged engagement rings as symbols of love, commitment, and the promise of a future together. Engagement rings have evolved over time, reflecting cultural influences, changing social norms, and advances in technology. From the simple bands of ancient Rome to the dazzling diamonds of the modern era, engagement ring styles have come a long way. In this article we’ll explore the cultural and design history and evolution of engagement ring styles. Let’s dive in!

Ancient Times

The history of engagement rings can be traced back to ancient times. In ancient Rome, engagement rings were simple iron bands worn on the third finger of the left hand. The Romans believed that the vein in this finger led directly to the heart, making it the perfect place to wear a symbol of love and commitment.

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, rings set with precious stones became popular among the wealthy. These rings often featured intricate designs and were considered a status symbol. The earliest record of a diamond engagement ring dates back to this era; in 1477 the Roman Emperor Maximillian gave his wife, Mary of Burgundy, a diamond ring

The Renaissance

The Renaissance period marked a shift in engagement ring design. Rings were still set with precious stones, but the focus shifted from the size of the stone to the overall design of the ring. Designers often incorporated multiple stones and complicated metalwork. Lots of engagement rings were made with filigree and complicated designs became popular during this period.

The Victorian Era

The Victorian era saw a rise in the popularity of engagement rings featuring clusters of small diamonds. These rings often resembled flowers, with the diamonds representing the petals. Colored gemstones, like sapphires and rubies, were also popular during this period.

Queen Victoria herself popularized the use of diamonds in engagement rings. In 1840, she received a diamond engagement ring from Prince Albert, which solidified the trend for diamond engagement rings among the upper classes. Diamond engagement rings remained popular throughout the early 20th century, but the size and quality of the diamond became increasingly important as time went on.

The Twentieth Century

The twentieth century saw a dramatic shift in engagement ring design, thanks in large part to the De Beers diamond company. In the 1930s, De Beers launched an advertising campaign that linked diamond engagement rings with love and commitment. The famous slogan “a diamond is forever” became synonymous with engagement rings and helped to cement the diamond's status as the ultimate symbol of love and devotion.

Today, diamond engagement rings remain the most popular choice for couples around the world. However, modern couples are also breaking away from tradition and exploring new options when it comes to engagement ring design. Some couples are opting for colored gemstones or alternative materials like wood or titanium. Others are choosing to create custom, one-of-a-kind designs that reflect their individual personalities.


Today’s Current Trends

Breaking away from tradition is particularly popular among LGBTQ+ couples who are breaking away from heteronormative traditions and creating their own engagement ring practices. Some couples choose to wear matching rings, while others opt for individualized designs that incorporate distinct elements of their relationship or shared interests.

As more people become aware of the ethical and environmental issues surrounding diamond mining, alternatives to traditional diamond engagement rings are becoming even more popular. Lab-grown diamonds, which are virtually indistinguishable from natural diamonds, are becoming more popular among couples who want a diamond but want to ensure that it was ethically sourced and sustainably produced.

The Future of Engagement Ring Styles

Engagement rings have come a long way since their humble beginnings as simple iron bands in ancient Rome. Over time, they have evolved to reflect changing cultural norms, social traditions, and advances in technology. Today, there are more engagement ring styles than ever before, better reflecting the diverse range of couples who wear them. It's likely that engagement ring design will continue to change and adapt, and with more and more couples breaking away from traditional designs, the possibilities for engagement ring styles are virtually endless.

One new trend emerging in this landscape is the use of vintage or antique engagement rings. These rings often have a unique history and charm that are hard to replicate in modern designs. Another trend is the use of mixed metals, combining different types of metals to create unique and interesting textures and colors that can be worn with any look.

Customization is also becoming increasingly popular, with couples designing their own engagement rings to reflect their personalities and tastes. This trend is especially popular among millennial and Gen Z couples, who tend to value individuality and authenticity.


Whether you prefer a traditional diamond ring or something more unique and unconventional, the options for engagement ring styles are endless. It's exciting to imagine the new and innovative designs that will emerge as engagement ring design continues to evolve and adapt to the changing needs and desires of couples around the world. Want to create your own special engagement ring design? Get in touch with our bespoke jewelry concierge team to start the process of bringing your dream design to life.

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