It’s simple, right? You fall in love, pick out a ring, plan the big day, and it all goes off without a hitch! This is the stuff that dreams (and movies) are made of.

But, have you ever wondered why a diamond ring is THE symbol of betrothal — an intention to marry; a physical object that tells the world of your desire to make a commitment to your love, ‘til death do us part?

Where did engagement rings come from, anyway? What’s the story behind a diamond lasting forever, just like your love and fidelity to THE one with whom you have chosen to spend the rest of your life?


Here’s the short version of the story of engagement rings:


  1. The Ancient Egyptians exchange wedding rings as a symbol of eternal unity.
  2. Ancient Romans begin the tradition of betrothal rings in the second century BC.
  3. The first recorded diamond engagement ring dates back to 1477 in Austria.
  4. Diamonds are discovered in South Africa in 1880 by DeBeers Mining Company.
  5. An incredibly successful advertising campaign in America’s post-Great Depression era convinces men and women that “a diamond is forever.”

So, the reason you may be wearing a one-of-a-kind diamond ring on your left hand, “ring finger,” is the result of centuries of evolving betrothal gifts and a persuasive ad campaign.


There’s more to the story.

Egyptians believed that the fourth finger of the left hand has a vein that leads straight to the heart, so that’s why they wore wedding rings made of braided reeds on their left hands.

Ancient Rome has a less romantic history when it comes to betrothal rings. Roman men first gave their betrothed valuable objects or money, more as a sign of ownership than of love. Then this tradition became a ring that the Roman woman wore on her left hand — a gold one for public special events and an iron one at home, signifying her husband’s ownership of her and their binding legal agreement.

Another ancient Roman tradition indicates that Roman women sometimes wore rings attached to small keys to acknowledge their husband’s ownership of them as property.


Romance enters back into the picture.

 By 1477, the engagement ring became more romantic when the Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave a custom-made, diamond engagement ring to his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy. Tiny, flat diamonds formed the shape of an “M,” Mary’s first initial, and it’s rumored that because of this elaborate ring, Mary chose Maximillian over another less-prepared suitor.

Archduke Maximillian’s act of love set a glamorous precedent for European nobility, who began adding more precious gems to their engagement rings, including diamonds and other stones. In the Middle Ages, “posey rings” were also a big hit with the soon-to-be married crowd. These were rings engraved with romantic poems that the couple exchanged.

Today, we still wear diamond engagement rings and wedding rings on our left hand, but that’s largely due to the discovery of diamond mines in Africa and a very successful ad campaign that convinced Americans to purchase these diamonds. After the Great Depression, DeBeers Mining Company (now called, DeBeers Jewelers) launched its famous “a diamond is forever” slogan and convinced men to spend at least two months’ salary on this very special rock.

By the early 1940s, engagement rings became the leading line of jewelry in most department stores. Today, DeBeers diamond engagement rings are still described as a way to “celebrate the world’s most iconic symbol of love.”


A diamond is forever, but sometimes you need options.

Diamond engagement rings have been historically challenging to sell, since we’ve been told that you keep a diamond ring forever.

At Southwest Jewelry Buyers, Arizona’s premier jewelry buyers of diamonds, silver, platinum, and precious gemstones, we understand that sometimes you need options.

Life can throw you a curveball, and the diamond ring may no longer be part of your unique story. Or, perhaps, an upgrade is in order.

Whatever the case may be, we offer expert appraisals and the highest price for your diamond engagement ring, or other jewelry so you can earn top dollar. We maintain the highest standards in the industry, and all of our appraisers are certified by the Gemological Institute of America.

Couple this national recognition with our award-winning customer service, and SWJB is really the only place to go in Scottsdale and the surrounding areas when you’re ready to sell your diamonds and other designer pieces.

Now that you know the history of the engagement ring, don’t be afraid to break from tradition and create your own unique story.

And, if you’d like an expert appraisal on your diamond ring, with a no-pressure, no-obligation promise from the professionals at Southwest Jewelry Buyers, contact us to schedule an appointment.