Engagement Ring History

Engagement rings have a rich and fascinating history, symbolizing love and commitment across different cultures and eras. From the ancient Egyptians, who first introduced the tradition, to the present-day focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing, the evolution of engagement rings reflects changing societal values and artistic expressions. Join us as we explore the captivating journey of engagement rings through the the past 200 years, highlighting the unique styles that have shaped this enduring symbol of romance.

Victorian Opulence:

In the Victorian era, a time of romance and sentimentality, engagement rings were adorned with intricate filigree and precious gemstones such as diamonds, pearls, and colorful gems

. Yellow gold was the metal of choice, symbolizing prosperity and elegance.

Victorian rings: ruby & diamond 3-stone vertical ring & yellow gold carved 6-prong solitaire diamond ring.

Edwardian Elegance:

Transitioning into the Edwardian era, engagement rings took on a more delicate and feminine aesthetic, characterized by intricate lace-like designs and the extensive use of platinum. Diamonds continued to reign supreme, often accented by sapphires, emeralds, and pearls, evoking an air of refinement and sophistication.

Art Nouveau Whimsy:

As we step into the Art Nouveau period, we are greeted by a whimsical

world of nature-inspired motifs and flowing lines. Engagement rings of this era often featured organic forms such as flowers, vines, and insects, crafted in precious metals like gold and silver, and adorned with colorful gemstones such as opals and moonstones, reflecting the era’s emphasis on artistic expression and individuality.

Yellow gold leaf motif 3-diamond 4-opal Art Nouveau ring.


Art Deco Marvels and the Roaring Twenties:

The roaring twenties ushered in the iconic Art Deco movement, characterized by bold geometric shapes, sleek lines, and a fascination with all things modern. Engagement rings became architectural marvels, featuring striking geometric patterns and dazzling diamond center stones, set against the backdrop of platinum or white gold, symbolizing luxury and glamour. Yellow gold was out of vogue and the old European cut diamond was popular. Other favored gemstones were rubies, sapphires, emeralds and pearls. You may want to look at our Art Deco Collection.

Platinum vintage diamond emerald ring.

Retro Nostalgia:

Transitioning into the Retro era of the 1940s and 1950s, engagement rings embraced a spirit of nostalgia and hopefulness, characterized by bold designs and vibrant hues. The demand for metals during WWII led to limitations in jewelry production, and a resurgence of yellow gold in engagement ring designs. Additionally, a scarcity of gemstones prompted jewelers to turn to synthetic and semi-precious alternatives. Engagement rings and bands were adorned with intricate scrollwork and floral motifs, while gemstones like aquamarine, amethyst, and citrine infused rings with a sense of whimsy and romanticism. Common design techniques from this time were woven, braided and coiled gold.

Palladium heart-shaped aquamarine diamond engagement ring

Diamonds and De Beers:

It was during the 1940’s that diamond popularity surged significantly, particularly after a successful marketing campaign by diamond company De Beers. The campaign famously coined the phrase “A Diamond is Forever,” which solidified the diamond’s association with eternal love and commitment. This marketing effort, coupled with increasing economic prosperity and social influences, helped cement the diamond engagement ring as the quintessential symbol of betrothal in Western culture.

Mid-Century Minimalism:

The Mid-Century era of the 1960s saw a shift towards sleek and minimalist designs, with engagement rings featuring clean lines and understated elegance. Solitaire diamond rings became increasingly popular, symbolizing purity and commitment, while platinum and white gold remained the metals of choice, embodying modernity and sophistication.

White gold solitaire engagement-style ring mounting.


Self-Expression and Individuality:

As we journey through the 1970s and 1980s, we encounter an era of self-expression and individuality, reflected in engagement rings adorned with bold gemstones and unconventional designs. From the psychedelic patterns of the 70s to the glamorous excess of the 80s, engagement rings became a canvas for personal style and creativity.

Platinum vintage garnet diamond ring & yellow gold vintage diamond flower ring.

Eclectic Innovations:

The 1990s and early 2000s saw a mix of vintage-inspired designs and contemporary innovations in engagement rings. From princess-cut diamonds to halo settings, customization and personalization flourished, reflecting the diverse tastes of couples.

Platinum vintage-inspired diamond ring mounting. Yellow gold diamond halo ring mounting.

Custom designed diamond engagement ring.

Argo & Lehne custom-designed engagement ring.

Current Trends:

In the present era, engagement ring styles continue to evolve with a focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing. Lab-grown diamonds and alternative metals offer couples more options than ever to align their rings with their values and lifestyle.

At Argo & Lehne Jewelers, we honor the diverse history of engagement rings, offering a curated collection that captures the essence of each era while embracing modern romance. Whether you’re drawn to vintage glamour or contemporary chic, we invite you to embark on your own journey through time and discover the perfect symbol of your everlasting love.

More vintage engagement rings.

More contemporary engagement rings.