[Posted on April 22nd, 2014 by Beth Bowes-Carter]
If you’ve decided that custom made engagement rings are better than more traditional options, you’re in good company. The tradition of personalized accessories is firmly rooted in human history; our curious and self-reflective species has long adorned itself with pieces of beauty, symbolism, and self-expression. Custom jewelry designers have the rare privilege of contributing one-of-a-kind heirlooms to future generations. At Dickinson by Design, we love crafting pieces that capture and celebrate our customers’ unique relationships, and we’re honored that so many couples trust us to tell their stories. Custom made engagement rings have a history as old as love itself. Reader’s Digest offers a concise history of the diamond engagement ring, which follows its evolution from pre-historic
braided grass bindings — remnants of primitive civilizations — ,to highly customizable modern-day materials like the gems and metals in our own inventory. In fact, it was only recently that the human race concocted the idea of the engagement ring as we know it.
We’ve helped many a woman feel like a princess with one of our custom diamond creations, so it’s no surprise that one of the very first custom made engagement rings played a role in royal history. Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, who reigned over present-day Germany and other Roman territories, proposed to his future Queen in 1477 with a diamond “M” ring. A custom jewelry designer crafted the letter — which identified both himself and his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy — out of flat, thin pieces of diamond.
In the 1800s, one Victorian jewelry custom touch actually involved spelling; creative types picked out gemstones according to the names of each stone, in an effort to spell out certain words or phrases with the first letter of each name. While it wasn’t readily apparent to the naked eye, it wasn’t unusual to spot a piece of diamond jewelry and associate it with the letter “D”, or to arrange one alongside an emerald, amethyst, and ruby for a “DEAR” loved one.
Credit actually belongs to a South African child for turning diamonds into the mainstream accessory they are today. According to the African diamond’s most common origin story, 15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs found a shiny stone clogging the pipes on his father’s river-side farm in 1867. Until then, worldwide mining efforts yielded just a few pounds of naturally-occurring diamonds every year, from remote Brazilian jungles and Indian riverbeds. According to the Atlantic, this discovery led to the realization that Africa was packed with diamonds. Miners and investors flocked to the continent, and suddenly, an aristocratic luxury became a realistic addition to young couples’ lives. By the 1890s, the industry’s biggest trend began when mail-order catalogs began listing diamond engagement and wedding rings. We can customize almost everything about a ring, including cut, setting, band, and style. In recent years, cushion-cut diamonds have joined princess, emerald, and oval as popular alternatives to the classic round brilliant cut. And it might not be feasible to form your fiancée’s first initial with gems, but some gorgeous settings can bring out her personality. Unlike standard pronged and tension settings, pave and micro-pave settings really make rings sparkle with clusters of tiny, affordable diamonds around the main rock. Who knows? In a century or two, current generations could be associated with brilliant, creative, and highly individual displays of love and commitment.