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Engagement Rings Throughout the Century

The engagement ring has been a staple of modern relationships for as long as anyone can remember. The ring, usually gold with a diamond, represents a promise and symbolizes the dedication, love, and commitment between a betrothed couple. History dates the first “engagement” ring back to the Romans, with women wearing rings made of ivory, bone, copper, and iron to “affirm mutual love and obedience”. The first diamond engagement ring was presented by Archduke Maximillian of Austria in 1477 to his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy. This ring was gold and featured a diamond-encrusted letter M as the centerpiece.

Engagement rings have come a long way since then – evolving through the decades based on trends and a few very well-placed marketing campaigns. Read on to discover the trends for each decade throughout the last century and today!


Diamond Shape: Asscher cut & Emerald cut

Metal: Platinum 

The prevailing Art Deco style of the 1920’s lead to engagement rings with sharp lines geometric shapes. The Emerald and Asscher cut diamonds share signature step-cut faceting, with straight and parallel lines and beveled corners. Platinum was a popular metal choice for jewelry at the time, and the rings were often adorned with smaller diamonds within the metal. More ornate rings featured multiple diamonds and gemstones arranged in geometric patterns.  


Diamond Shape: Round

Metal: Platinum

Departing from the style of the roaring twenties, engagement ring styles began to lean towards softer, more rounded styles, with designs featuring ribbons, bows, and lace. Round diamonds gained popularity as the center stone to match the gentle, curving designs of the ring. Due to the Great Depression, solitaire rings prevailed for their minimal designs and lowered costs. 


Diamond Shape: Round

Metal: Yellow & White Gold

Thanks to a De Beers marketing campaign in 1947, the now classic slogan “A Diamond is Forever” spurred diamond sales within the US. Celebrities began wearing diamonds on and off set, and the round diamond became the front runner for the engagement ring centerpiece. During World War II, platinum was reserved solely for military use, therefore gold became the popular metal for engagement settings. 


Diamond Shape: Pear cut

Metal: Platinum & Gold

Engagement rings of the 1950’s focused on lots of detail and large center diamonds. Pear-shaped diamonds were popular at the time, as were thin baguette diamonds and dainty stacking bands – thanks to Audrey Hepburn’s wedding set. Restrictions on platinum were lifted after WWII ended, and platinum jewelry was quickly regaining its previous popularity. More jewelry was being seen in white, yellow, and even rose gold! 


Diamond Shape: Asscher cut

Metal: Platinum & Gold

The Art Deco scene of the 1920’s made a reappearance in the 1960’s engagement ring trends. This led to women favoring more bold and chic styles, often featuring the Asscher cut, like Elizabeth Taylor’s famous 33-carat Asscher cut engagement ring! Rings with mixed gemstones, especially emeralds, were also popular thanks to Jackie Kennedy’s emerald and diamond engagement ring. 


Diamond Shape: Emerald cut

Metal: Yellow Gold

Women of the 70’s were all about embracing trends, like coordinating their wedding band to match the engagement ring. The emerald cut was popular due to its chic shape and modern look. Yellow and rose gold settings were on the rise to match the trendiness of the center stone. 


Diamond Shape: Round

Metal: Yellow Gold

Princess Diana’s 12-carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring spurred a resurgence of colored gemstone rings in the market. Round diamonds were also back in style for their timelessness and classic look, usually seen paired with baguette diamond accents. Yellow gold became the metal of choice for its bold pop of color. 


Diamond Shape: Marquise 

Metal: White Gold & Platinum 

While engagement ring styles widely varied in the 1990’s, the marquise diamond was seen time and time again. It’s edgy design and bold points made it popular in the era of grunge. Yellow gold settings were on the decline from the previous decade, and white gold and platinum were the setting colors of choice. 


Diamond Shape: Princess cut 

Metal: White Gold & Platinum 

Engagement ring trends of the 2000’s tended to revert to classic, timeless settings – like solitaires and 3-stone rings. 3-stone engagement rings were popular for their representation of a couple’s past, present, and future. These rings often featured a square, princess-cut center stone and two smaller princess-cut side stones. White gold and platinum remained popular during this decade, with fewer engagement ring sales in yellow gold. 


Diamond Shape: Cushion cut

Metal: White Gold

The 2010’s were all about diamond halos! The diamond halo gave the illusion of a larger center stone and added a ton of sparkle to a ring. Cushion cuts were a popular choice for the center stone – with a wide, sparkling table and gently curved corners. Engagement settings were becoming thinner and daintier to put an emphasis on the size of the center stone. 


Diamond Shape: Oval cut

Metal: White Gold

We’re seeing a lot of new and upcoming engagement ring trends pop up – like thin, dainty bands studded with tiny diamonds and bespoke (or custom) pieces. Many brides are opting for engagement rings that fit their own personal styles instead of sticking to the trends. Oval diamonds are on the upswing in popularity and due to their classic yet modern shape, they lend themselves well to both traditional style engagement rings and more modern styles. 

Despite all of the trends that come and go throughout the decades, the most popular style of engagement ring by far is the classic round diamond solitaire in a yellow gold setting. While the style hasn’t topped the trends every decade, the simple diamond solitaire has always been a popular choice with brides throughout the century. We can’t say which engagement ring styles will trend next, but we do know we can help you find the ring that’s perfect for you! Between the hundreds of mountings we have available in-store and online, plus custom ring options, you’re bound to find the one you’ll cherish forever. 

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