Fun Stuff > Inspiration
100 Years of Engagement Rings
Thursday, August 18th, 2016 | By Emily Coates
Oh boy, prepare for the prettiest history lesson you’ll probably ever experience! In the past 100 years, the engagement ring has evolved dramatically. We’ve seen the razzle and dazzle of the roaring 20s, the retro Hollywood glamour of the 1950s, through to the sparkling elegant designs we’ve seen splashed all over our Facebook feeds.
In this post, we’ll run through the visual history of engagement rings—from the elegant vintage designs of the early 1900s to the stunning sparkling rocks we see on the left hands of women today.
The Edwardian era saw an elegant, sophisticated, but simplistic style of engagement ring. Typically, a single solitaire diamond or gemstone was set within a yellow gold band. Gemstones such as sapphires, diamonds and pearls were most popular during this time.
Left: Etsy | Right: Style Me Pretty
The Roaring 20s were a time of elaborate design and a return to ‘vintage’ styles with Art Deco designs. Jewellers used bold geometric designs, intricate lace and large diamonds, onyx, coral, sapphires and emeralds set within striking motifs. Glitz and glamour were in, flappers reigned and extravagent parties were the norm for those with cash to spare.
Image: Style Me Pretty
The trend for glitz and glamour continued into the 30s and ring styles became bigger and bolder, reflecting the intricate art deco styles as seen in architecture and fashion. Large ring bases held a number of sparkling diamonds and those travelling to and looking for engagement rings in London discovered more jewellers than ever were creating rings in this style from the likes of Hirschfeld’s and Tiffanys.
Left: Wedding Forward | Right: Style Me Pretty
1940s + 50s
This era was all about old Hollywood glamour. In 1947 the slogan ‘a diamond is forever’ was introduced, creating a surge in popularity for diamonds set in polished yellow metals. Large colourful gemstones set with small diamonds were also popular, with aquamarine, citrine and amethyst among the most popular stones of choice.
Left: Style Me Pretty | Right: Weddings Unveiled Magazine
1960s + 70s
Women in the 60s returned to a more simplistic style and new diamond cuts were beginning to grow in popularity with many opting for emerald cut diamonds that always look elegant. Platinum was being used more and more for ring bases, as people looked for value for money. Elizabeth Taylor was still a popular celebrity and many took inspiration from her when it came to diamonds – especially her engagement ring from movie producer Michael Todd.
Left: The Mrs Box | Right: Style Me Pretty
Sparkly baguettes started to make their way into ring design in the 80s, holding in place large round cut diamonds and continuing with the simplistic, but still sparkly trend. Yellow gold is a popular choice, but white gold is slowly creeping behind for those looking for a more sophisticated ring design.
Left: Want That Wedding | Right: Ken & Dana Design
Bling started getting big in the 90s, with sharply cut gems nestled between sparkling baguettes and on white gold. Celebrities introduced the notion of coloured diamonds that saw a steady rise in popularity—such as J-Lo, who proudly wore her pink diamond engagement ring from Ben Affleck to major events – we bet you’d forgotten those two were a couple, huh?
Left: Style Me Pretty | Right: Susie Saltsman
Multiple diamonds along the ring band became a popular choice for those in the 00s, with white gold or platinum bands opted for over yellow and people looking for the most sparkling ring design they could get their hands on.
Left: Weddings Unveiled Magazine | Right: Style Me Pretty
The halo ring design is a popular choice for engagement rings, as well as more unusual colours and custom designs. We’re loving the return of rose gold and intricate vintage-inspired designs.
Left: Weddings Unveiled Magazine | Right: Ken & Dana Designs