Engagement rings have been reliably traced as far back in humanity's history as the ancient Romans, and today, they are known all over the world as a symbol of a couple's love, affection and commitment to a life together. While the term "engagement ring" is a universal term, however, the notion of just what the perfect engagement ring consists of is not.
While rings made of metal grew in popularity, no doubt due to their durability, diamond rings, similar to those prized by engaged couples today, first became popular during the 1800s after the discovery of a large supply of diamonds in what is now South Africa. Tiffany & Co.'s now classic "Tiffany setting," followed shortly thereafter, featuring six prongs so as to showcase a round diamond's brilliance by lifting it up from the band.
The Tiffany setting may be a classic, but today's engaged couples face myriad choices in cut, color, style and setting when choosing an engagement ring. White diamonds, once considered the only choice when shopping for an engagement ring, face competition from colored gemstones in a rainbow of different hues or even rings that dare to feature no stone at all!
Modern brides often opt for more stylized engagement ring styles, such as those featuring more than one stone. The advantage of these settings is that they can appear larger without the expense of purchasing a single large stone. Multiple smaller diamonds, even if the total carat weight is the same, are likely to cost less, leaving the engaged couple with more flexibility when purchasing their engagement ring. Perhaps the would-be bridegroom will choose a halo setting to propose to his fiancée with an extra sparkly engagement ring rather than a plainer single stone.
Many engagement ring styles go beyond considering the engagement ring as a single piece of jewelry. Today's brides are sophisticated women, interested in bridal sets that feature engagement rings and wedding rings that fit nicely together after the wedding. After all, a woman is likely to wear an engagement ring alone for only a short time while she will hopefully be wearing both her engagement ring and her wedding ring together for the rest of her life!
Bridal sets may feature wedding rings that are specially curved to fit like puzzle pieces around elaborate engagement rings or they may even be welded to the engagement ring after the wedding day. Of course, while engagement rings for grooms have not yet become popular, bridal sets do not leave out men entirely. If the couple is shopping for a bridal set, they may also consider the groom's wedding ring in the purchase. The engagement ring style may now even influence the type of wedding ring that the groom purchases, which means that it can become a very influential piece of jewelry for the bridal couple!