Although specific traditions vary, there is a remarkable resemblance in marriage and courtship ceremonies all over the world. Marriage, in some way or another, persists in every society and civilization on the planet, as does any form of commitment and wedding ceremony. This may be because each tradition has a very particular purpose that is profoundly ingrained in the very heart of human existence.
Giving an engagement ring is one of the most traditional mating practices in the Western world. In particular, the ritual has become so popular that more than 80% of all plans contain a diamond engagement ring. While there is no denying that an engagement ring has become an almost indelible feature of most Western courtship traditions, the question is, where did the tradition originate?
And if we don’t want to think about it that way, an engagement is, in effect, a binding commitment. Contracts will, of course, be seen in a quite traditional, non-romantic, legalistic manner, but they can often be very romantic. Meredith Grey, the series’ main character, marries her husband with a contract written on a post-it note in Grey’s Anatomy. The contract not only becomes integral to the plot, but it also becomes one of the couple’s most prized belongings.
Historically, a woman’s virginity was her most valuable asset in a marriage. When women married, they were supposed to be “clean.” The importance of an engagement “contract” stemmed from the fact that most partners started sleeping together after they became engaged. As a result, if a man broke off an engagement, it was thought that the woman had been “sullied.” A broken marriage would make it impossible for her to find another partner, and even though she did, she would be deemed “damaged goods.” In an era where women relied on either their husbands or their families for help, a broken marriage was devastating not just to them but to their whole society. If a father was unable to marry off his daughter, he was forced to help her for the remainder of his life.
It’s no wonder that the most common engagement ring stone is also one of the most costly. A diamond engagement ring provided “protection” in the sense that if a woman offered a man her “purity” and he broke off the engagement, she would not be left with much.
Although the tradition of engagement rings has certain sexist underpinnings, it should not have to be any less of a romantic gesture. What a custom represents is dictated not by its historical origin, but by the intentions of those who participate in it. A diamond engagement ring is now a token of undying love. When you love somebody, it may be tough to find the right expression to describe your feelings. A lovely diamond engagement ring will be of assistance. Michael Arthur will help you articulate yourself when you don’t know what to think.