Diamonds have long been the favorite choice for engagement rings and today diamond wedding bands are also proving increasingly popular with many couples. The diamond is said to represent love, spirituality and prosperity and legend holds that Cupid's arrow was tipped with a diamond.
The first recorded use of the diamond in an engagement ring dates back to 1477 when Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond engagement ring at the time of their betrothal. This practice was then taken up by wealthy Venetians and slowly started to spread. At the time however diamonds were extremely rare and, as such, were also very expensive. This meant that for many years the practice of using diamonds was confined to royalty and the aristocracy.
Prior to 1850 virtually all of the world's diamonds came from India. A find in Brazil roughly doubled this supply in 1850, but it was the discovery of large quantities of diamonds in South Africa in 1867 that really opened up supply. Today diamonds are widely available and this, combined with rising prosperity, means that many couples now feel that they can afford a diamond engagement ring and increasingly are choosing to match with a pair of diamond wedding bands.
Diamonds have a very high degree of reflectivity (about half as much again as glass) and this gives them their brilliant appearance which is both attractive and appealing. This brilliant sparkle led to a belief amongst medieval Italians that diamonds were created in the flames of love. Not a bad thought when you consider that diamonds are in fact created by the close bonding of crystals deep underground where they are exposed to both to tremendous pressure and intense heat.
In modern jewelry, such as engagement rings and diamond wedding bands, small high quality diamonds (typically less than one carat) are used, with brilliant white (clear) diamonds being the normal choice. Diamonds are however found in other colors and couples sometimes prefer to select a blue or yellow diamond.
The brilliance seen in diamond wedding bands does not however come from the diamond alone and has as much to do with the way in which the stone is cut and with the manner in which it is set into the ring. It is extremely important therefore that when choosing diamond wedding bands you pay particular attention to both the stones themselves and to the setting. As a rule the finest stones will be cut in Amsterdam of New York and the setting should be done by a reputable and experienced jeweler.
The diamond engagement ring has long been seen as a beautiful expression of a man's love for his bride-to-be and the growing custom of exchanging diamond wedding bands is a natural extension of this age old tradition.