2nd Century BC: Leave it to Pliny! According to the elder Roman philosopher, matrimonial protocol in the toga-wearin’ days of yore was for the groom to give the bride a gold ring to wear during the ceremony and an iron ring to wear at home, signifying his ownership of her.
1477: Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposes in high style to Mary of Burgundy with the first recorded use of diamonds in an engagement ring.
1700s: Silver “poesy rings” engraved with flowery sayings are all the vogue in Europe.
1700s: Puritans give ostentatious “poesy rings” the appropriate finger and cut the tops off thimbles to declare their love instead.
1867: Ice, ice, baby! Diamonds are discovered in South Africa, which causes a huge increase in the global supply.
1947: Jewel giant De Beers launches the now-classic slogan, “A Diamond Is Forever,” linking the durability of the gem to strong marriages and changing the American psyche — and preparations for proposals — for generations to come.
1949: The song Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend is released, warning hopeful suitors everywhere to “Get that ice, or else no dice.”
1994: And now the bad news…the Revolutionary United Front takes over Sierra Leone’s diamond areas. More than 50,000 are killed and about half the country’s 4.5 million people are displaced. The seeds of the tragic term ‘blood diamond’ are taking root.
1998: War ensues with rebel movements backed by Rwanda and Uganda, which control diamond areas.
1999: $150 million worth of the coveted stones are produced in conflict areas and $468 million from non-conflict areas.
2000: Time to take charge! In an effort to decrease purchasing Blood Diamonds from conflict zones, the Kimberley Process was created to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel forces.
2003: Opportunity knocks for Walmart when it introduces its “Keepsake” brand of diamonds and becomes one of the top sellers of diamonds in the world.
2015: Take it to the bank! Today, the average cost of a diamond engagement ring is around $5,000. But who’s to put a pricetag on true love?!