An engagement ring is different from other rings because it’s a sign that the person wearing it is engaged to be married. In the west, the person is usually a woman, and the ring is most often adorned with at least one diamond. In some cultures, men also wear engagement rings that match those of their fiancee’s. In other cultures, the engagement ring is turned into a wedding ring during the wedding ceremony. It is simply transferred from the ring finger on the right hand to the ring finger on the left hand.
The practice of giving engagement rings can be traced back to ancient Rome, though even older societies have claimed credit for it. The ring was placed on the left hand because people believed that a vein called the vena amoris traveled from the left ring finger to the heart.
Modern engagement rings are usually made of precious metals, though back in the days of ancient Rome they were made of iron. At least, the engagement ring the woman wore while she went about her daily household tasks was made of iron. Granted, iron is tougher than most precious metals, but it was also a reminder to the woman that her future husband owned her. The gentler and pricier metals now used for engagement rings no doubt send a different message. Gold is the most popular metal used for engagement rings, but pure gold is such a soft metal that it can’t stand up to day to day wear. So, it is mixed with other metals to make it tougher. The types of gold used for rings are:
• Yellow gold
This is gold mixed with copper to keep the traditional bright golden color.
• Pink gold
This is gold also mixed with copper to give it a gold-orange glow.
• White gold
Nickel or zinc is mixed with gold and plated with rhodium to give it a brilliant, silvery shine.
Another precious metal used to make engagement ring bands is platinum, a bright, silvery metal. Platinum is strong and does not need to be mixed with other metals.
The diamond that adorns the ring can come in various settings. A solitaire diamond frequently has a prong setting, while the diamond itself is often cut in the brilliant style. This popular style is prized for bringing out the fire of the diamond. Every brilliant cut diamond has 58 facets, no matter how large or small it is.
In halo engagement rings the central diamond is surrounded by smaller gemstones in a halo., which can be round or square. The band itself can also be encrusted with smaller diamonds.
Whatever it looks like, an engagement ring says to the world that a person has found their true love and is soon to be married.