The History of Diamond Engagement Rings
Beverly Hill’s longest operating pawnshop, Beverly Loan Company, was opened in 1938 by the current owner Jordan Tabach-Bank’s maternal grandfather. The luxury collateral lender makes more pawn loans against engagement, wedding, and anniversary rings than arguably any other type of jewelry. The rings are typically brought in for a collateral loan, however, the high-end pawn shop also purchases and sells diamond rings to the public and those in the diamond trade. The engagement tradition is so common that most people are unaware of the long history surrounding the practice.
The history of diamond engagement rings can be traced back to one person, the Archduke Maximillian of Austria. In 1477 he gave his betrothed Mary of Burgundy a ring with small diamonds in the shape of an “M”. This started a trend in high society to give their loved ones diamond rings.
Before the diamond trend started in the Renaissance, there are mentions of engagement rings as far back as the Egyptians – who wore gold or silver wire on the third finger of their left hands, believed to be directly connected in the heart through the vena amoris. Roman brides were given two rings, one of gold to wear in the community, and an iron ring to wear at home.
Over the next few centuries rings remained a symbol of affection and devotion, although styles varied widely. For instance Protestants during the Protestant Reformation used a thimble as a symbol for engagements and marriages, and many women ended up removing the top of the thimble to create a ring.
When diamond mines in Africa were discovered in 1867 the influx of the stones granted those of lesser means to join the trend – Sears and Roebuck’s even started selling affordable options in their mail order catalog in the 1890’s. However many affluent couples still preferred colored gemstones like rubies, sapphires and emeralds as the cener stone. Using a large diamond did not become the standard until De Beers started a marketing campaign following the Great Depression in the late 1930’s.
At the same time that Beverly Loan Company was opening its doors in Beverly Hills – De Beers started the campaign educating the public on the 4 C’s (cut, color, clarity, and carat). The company then went on to produce the famous tagline “A Diamond is Forever” in 1947. Considered one of the most successful marketing campaigns of the 20th century, De Beers promoted diamonds as a lifelong investment and symbol of everlasting commitment.
Engagement rings were now in the spotlight more than ever – with the release of Truman Capote’s novel ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and Marilyn Monroe signing ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ the demand for diamonds reached an all-time high. Luxury jewelers and joailliers worldwide have put their own unique spin on the engagement ring – including Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Graff, Harry Winston and Chopard.
While the diamond and jewelry industry has had many other changes in the past 50 years or so, the tradition of diamond engagement rings has rarely wavered. While many couples use alternate gemstones or materials to customize their wedding and engagement jewelry, the conventional diamond ring is used by millions of couples to propose around the world.
To pawn, sell, or purchase an engagement, wedding, anniversary, or right-hand ring call Beverly Loan Company at 310-275-2555