Category: History Education

Which Came First: The Engagement Ring Or The Wedding Ring?Which Came First: The Engagement Ring Or The Wedding Ring?

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If you guessed the wedding ring, you were correct! The tradition of the ring to symbolize a special bond between two people has dated back since the Egyptian times, 4800 years ago. Back then, the rings were braided and formed with reeds. These rings would not last long and were eventually replaced with strands of leather, bone or ivory. Through the years, the circular shape has maintained its same meaning since. It is a sign of the never-ending love and commitment between two individuals.

Later on, the Romans added a new material to the mix when they decided to make their rings out of iron and engrave them. The origin of the engagement ring came to be in the Third century in the shape of a key made out of brass, bronze or iron. The idea of the key ring was to unlock a new life for the woman. Some of the rings indeed opened up jewelry boxes with beautiful treasures inside.

A more traditional engagement ring style (more similar to rings you see today) made its way to the stage in the 15th century and was first worn by royal families. Brides in the upper class were given engagement rings with hidden messages. For example, a ring with a diamond and a ruby displayed would stand for commitment and passion.

Fast-forward to the Eighteenth century and you will spot the beginning of the Diamond Age. As diamonds in Brazil became more accessible for the upper classes, so did their popularity. It also was at this time that a second ring (aka a wedding band) was united with the engagement ring at the time of the ceremony. One of the lead trendsetters, Queen Charlotte, wife of George III of England, opted to nestle a diamond band with her engagement ring.

Fun Facts:

  • The earliest and smallest engagement ring was given to Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. She was two years old at the time.
  • The first recorded account of a diamond engagement ring was in 1477 when King Maximilian I of Germany (1459-1519) proposed to Mary of Burgundy (1457-1482) and offered her a diamond to seal his vow. (So guys, you now know who to blame!)
  • The most popular month for engagement? December.
  • In 1886, the Tiffany setting took the engagement ring by storm. The design’s creator, Charles Lewis Tiffany, knew the importance of a diamond engagement ring and wished for a stage to display its prominence and symbolism of love.
  • Today, in Norway, Russia, Greece, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Poland, Austria, Germany, Portugal and Spain, the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger of the right hand and not the left. In Jewish tradition, the groom places the ring on the bride’s index finger, and not the “ring” finger at all.
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Natural vs Freshwater Pearls: What’s the Difference?Natural vs Freshwater Pearls: What’s the Difference?

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You may have seen advertisements or displays of “cultured freshwater pearls” and noticed two things: the appearance of the freshwater pearls was drastically different than that of traditional, white “natural” pearls. The other noticeable difference is typically the price. Freshwater pearls are generally far less expensive than natural pearls.

Aside from their drastic difference in appearance and cost, there are some other major differences between freshwater and cultured pearls. For example, natural pearls occur randomly and spontaneously in the wild—which makes them very rare.

Freshwater pearls, on the other hand, are farmed from freshwater mussels, allowing them to be produced and harvested on a much wider scale—hence the lower price.

Both freshwater and natural pearls come from a living organism, which makes them somewhat fragile. However, freshwater pearls, because of their appearance and lower cost, are often worn on a more casual basis. Natural pearls, with their elegant and timeless style, are usually saved for special occasions.

Natural pearls are often passed down from generation to generation, making them extremely delicate as they are handled and worn throughout the years. In order to keep pearls safe from damage there are some precautions you can take:

  • Restring your pearls every 3 years or so—depending on the level of wear—to avoid a potential break.
  • Avoid wearing makeup, perfumes, or other chemicals when wearing pearls—these can damage the surface of your pearls.
  • When storing your pearls, make sure they are free of contaminates and avoid hanging them for long periods of time—this will stretch and eventually break the silk string holding them together.

Hopefully these tips will help keep your pearls looking beautiful for many years to come. Feel free to stop by the store and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have about your prized jewelry.

Here at Gold Definitions, we believe jewelry is meant to be worn. So don’t be afraid to show off those pearly whites—jewelry, that is!

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The Origin of Wheat Carving and EngravingThe Origin of Wheat Carving and Engraving

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Ring designs are often deeply symbolic, conveying profound significance with small, but important colors, styles, and more. For example, wheat carving and engraving on rings is often represented with a series of detailed hash marks across the width of the ring. Behind such designs as wheat carving and engraving are often rich stories of how humans have interpreted those designs for centuries.

What does such a style symbolize? And how did this style emerge?

Wheat carving and engraving on rings is typically understood to symbolize a bountiful harvest. In the 19th century, farmers’ wives wore rings with this design as a way to signify a successful or productive harvest that year. As one can imagine, doing this was a display of pride and gratitude for the wife and her family. Some have also speculated that wheat carving and engraving on rings emerged during the Renaissance, symbolizing fertility.

Today, this design—found predominately on vintage rings—might be interpreted along these historical lines. However, it might also be understood to symbolize a connection to the natural world. Or, perhaps it could be seen as a tribute to the agricultural background of one’s family.

Whatever ring design you choose, you should know that every design comes full of symbolic significance—whether that be a historically inherited significance or a personal significance you choose to give.

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