Though diamonds are currently the gem of choice in engagement rings, it was only in the 20th century that diamonds became popular. Before the 20th century, colored gemstones had a long history of being considered most precious.
Engagement rings as we know them began as a result of Pope Innocent III implementing a mandatory waiting period between engagement and marriage in the year 1215. Until that time, people simply married once they made the decision to do so. Couples in the limbo between not-married and married began to exchange symbols of commitment, and the engagement ring was born. Jump forward 150-200 years, and it was the sapphire that was the favorite engagement gemstone, because it symbolized love, truth and commitment. Plus, it was believed that a sapphire’s color would fade if worn by an unfaithful or untruthful person!
Royalty were known to use diamonds in their engagement rings, but no more often than they used sapphires, rubies and emeralds. And of course, back in those centuries diamonds were extremely rare. But starting in 1870, when huge diamond deposits were discovered in South Africa, diamonds began to flood the market and prices for diamonds started to come down. De Beers launched its massive effort in to make diamonds part of every wedding in 1938. They coined the phrase “A Diamond is Forever” in 1947 and by the 1960s, diamonds were synonymous with engagement. That slogan was named the best advertising slogan of the 20th century.
Today we see a resurgence of interest in colored gemstones for engagement rings. Today’s brides are open to a broad range of gemstones and designs, basing their jewelry decisions on personal taste, the desire for uniqueness, and concerns about diamond origins. Colored gemstones – many of which are rarer than diamonds – offer exciting stories for today’s brides; from historic lore to the metaphysical properties of gems and the various meanings associated with colors. It appears the old adage is true: What comes around goes around. At Omi Privé, we’re just excited that colored gemstone bridal jewelry has come around again.