Diamond rings have been a token of marriage proposal acceptance for centuries. According to the American Gem Society, the tradition started in 1477 when Archduke Maximillian of Austria commissioned a diamond ring for his betrothed Mary of Burgundy. The Victorians would later build upon the trend in their own sentimental way by mixing diamonds with other gemstones and metals, a trend that continued well into the Edwardian era.
Despite their widespread presence, diamond engagement rings didn’t become mainstream in America until the 1930s (via Gemological Institute of America). With the help of a few Hollywood starlets, department stores and advertisers marketed the stone’s durability, quality, and purity. They positioned the stone as a symbol of lasting marriage and succeeded in making diamonds the top-selling gemstone in the world.
In spite of their enduring popularity, many modern couples are ditching diamond rings in favor of other stones (via CNBC). Couples concerned with sustainability, ethical production, and one-of-a-kind products are looking to replace diamond engagement rings with emeralds, morganite, sapphires, and rubies. Some brides feel stones other than diamonds more accurately reflect their personalities. Others recognize the severe impacts of diamond mining, including environmental devastation and the exploitation of miners, and want a ring that aligns with their values. Diamonds may be forever, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear one if your preferences or tastes differ.