We won’t argue with the fact that no matter how you cut them, diamonds are glorious, and they will always be a girl’s best friend. Just like veils, flowers, and tossed garters, they’re a part of wedding tradition in America that seemingly goes back to before anybody can remember. And of course, diamonds make a great symbol of permanence, and beauty. But one thing I’ve always wondered: where and when did the obsession with diamond wedding rings begin?
Not surprisingly, diamonds have been enchanting tough guys and pretty ladies alike for thousands of years—Alexander the Great sought them as one of the spoils of his invasion of India, in 326 B.C. In fact, India’s Golconda region, where the Himalayan Mountains sit, is still known for its fabulous diamonds, such as the great Hope Diamond, the Koh-I-Noor diamond, and the blue Darya-i-Nur, or “the Sea of Light.”
The Briolette of India, the oldest diamond on record, is thought to date back to the 12th century when it was first acquired by Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Queen consort of King Louis VII of France. Today, most of these historic diamonds are in the hands of private collectors but many, like the Darya-i-Nur, one of the Iranian Crown Jewels, can still be viewed in the Treasury of National Jewels in Tehran, Iran.
According to the Gemological Institute of America, the first person to use a diamond to mark an engagement ceremony was the Archduke Maximilian of Hamburg, who popped the question to Mary of Burgundy in the year 1477. It turns out diamonds are a wedding tradition that’s centuries old.
But “A Diamond is Forever” hasn’t always been forever—we have De Beers to thank for that unforgettable ad campaign, which pretty much kicked off the diamond renaissance in America in the 1940s. Our passion for diamonds hasn’t stopped since.