Ring-ing in the Years: Diamond Engagement Ring Styles Through the Decades

Updated: May 14



You have to go back a good bit to find the first recorded instance of a man presenting a woman with a diamond engagement ring. The year was 1477. The place? Hamburg, Austria. The Archduke Maximillian delivers a token of his undying affection and love to Mary of Burgundy. From this moment forward, the allure of sparkling diamond engagement rings lit a spark among royalty and the wealthy, who carried this tradition forward for the next few centuries.

Eventually, it wasn’t just European elites who delighted in presenting their wives-to-be with diamond engagement rings. The rank and file began to follow suit (and their ring-bearing suitors). And while there have been many variations to cuts, settings and metal encasings over the years, diamonds themselves have continued to reign supreme as the ultimate symbol of luxury and love; elegance and engagement. This is certainly the case in America. Let’s take a closer look at the evolution and trends over the years, shall we?

The Twentieth Century Arrives. So Do Diamond Rings.

It was around the turn of the twentieth century that diamonds really solidified themselves as the unquestioned and unparalleled engagement ring stone. Advances in metalworking meant that stronger metal such as platinum could be used, and creative, flowery flourishes could be incorporated into the new wave of diamond engagement rings. In the roaring time of The Great Gatsby that preceded the raging poverty of the Great Depression, emerald cut and European cut diamond rings gained a strong finger-hold in popular consciousness — and the baguette cut also emerged. Emeralds, rubies and sapphires also infused some diamond engagement rings with bold flourishes and flashes of color.

The Great Depression Shrinks Stones.

As the Great Depression made flashy displays of luxury not only less realistic, but also straight-up insulting or disgusting in the eyes of many desperate and desolate Americans, diamond rings became foreign to more and more people — and multi-stone settings (at times including much smaller carat-weight diamonds than before) became more popular. Geometric designs and ribbon bands containing smaller diamonds started to emerge — as did the wildly popular motion picture and film industry that would help set, shape and popularize social styles and trends.

A Great War. Then a Great Resurgence.

While the opulence often depicted on camera influenced Americans, so did the next great national challenge — World War II. After much suffering and sacrifice once again scaled back the sparkle and opulence of the diamond ring, a return to prosperity and optimism in the 1950s also meant a resurgence in creativity and sheer size in the engagement ring. The glamorous emerald cut came back into vogue, as did pear-shaped diamonds. Silver screen icons and tabloid goddesses like Grace Kelly, Eva Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor helped popularize such sexy, seductive and glamorous rings to the modern American suburban man and woman — both onscreen and off.

Don’t be a Square…Unless You’re an Asscher-Cut Diamond.

The wild tumult and upheaval that defined the 1960s and much of the 1970s didn’t exactly turn the diamond engagement scene upside down, but it did usher in something new — the square Asscher-cut diamond. Colored stones also made somewhat of a comeback, but the emerald cut remained strong and steady, too. When stagflation took hold in the 1970s, smaller, more affordable rings also came into vogue. The 1970s also saw a surge in round solitaires, pear-shaped and marquise diamonds.

A RAD and Royal Revolution.

The Royals dominated much of the headlines and consciousness of the 1980s, even across the pond here in America. When Prince Charles proposed to the glamorous and iconic Princess Diana, he presented her with a stunning blue sapphire set in diamonds — and the Royal Sapphire soon surged in popularity. Rockin’ rubies and flashy yellow gold also emerged in the colorful, energetic Eighties. The more rebellious, anti-establishment angst of the 1990s extended somewhat into diamond engagement ring trends, with marquise designs and three-stone settings representing the diamond version of grunge.

New Century…and Beyond

While the turn of the twentieth century brought us stronger metals and more flowery flourishes in the diamonds they housed, the dawn of the twenty-first century ushered in another surge in stone styles. Bigger started to mean Better once again, and the princess-cut diamond became a huge favorite among contemporary couples. Around 2016, rose gold and oval diamonds started to make a strong stone surge too, along with the “vintage” look of the cushion cut. As all things “bespoke” continue to transfer from the Millennials more into the Mainstream, we should expect to continue to see similar diamond engagement ring trends. Creativity is the word of the day, it sure seems.

Timeless Beauty: Diamond Rings Backed by Insurance.

While diamond engagement ring styles have clearly changed and evolved over the decades, one constant has remained:

A gorgeous diamond ring, backed by an iron-clad insurance company, is a timeless thing of beauty.

Think about it, if even just for a moment. As much money, effort, love, care and attention goes into a diamond engagement ring, doesn’t it make sense to purchase some peace of mind to ensure this level of an investment? For as powerful a statement as your ring makes, it’s still a rather small object — meaning it can be easily lost, misplaced, damaged or stolen. This is why a jewelry insurance policy can be every bit as valuable as your diamond ring itself.

Just like diamonds and diamond rings, not all insurance policies are created the same, however. In fact, there can be a wide variance – and not everything can be covered equally, either. At Zillion, our comprehensive jewelry insurance policy lets you wear your ring with not just pride, but confidence and security. Our policies cover loss, theft, damage, disappearance and natural disasters. They also cover you no matter where in the world you travel. You might say a Zillion jewelry insurance policy is…timeless. Just like your love — and regardless of how the styles or trends change through the years.

Get a free jewelry insurance quote or learn more about purchasing engagement ring insurance from Zillion today!


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