History of the Engagement Ring


The Brilliant History of the Engagement Ring

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In 1968, the world watched in wonder as the cleaving of the 601-carat Lesotho diamond was broadcast on live television.  Recently purchased by Mr. Harry Winston himself, the magnificent rough stone yielded 18 separate and stunning diamonds.  One of these remarkable gems – the 40.42-carat Lesotho Three – would end up becoming one of the century’s most incredible engagement rings, when the breathtaking Harry Winston creation was purchased by Aristotle Onassis for Jacqueline Kennedy.

The gift of a diamond engagement ring has long-served as a symbol of dedication and love.  Mr. Winston always believed that such sentiments should be captured and commemorated with something as precious and beautiful as a diamond, and worked with his designers and craftsmen to fashion the most exceptional engagement rings.  While Mr. Winston’s discerning standards have resulted in the creation of some of history’s most celebrated jewels, the history of the engagement ring itself dates back to ancient times.

 

Emerald-Cut Engagement Ring

Like so many great traditions, the gifting of an engagement ring originated in Ancient Egypt, where its circular shape was said to symbolize an eternal cycle.  It was worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, where it was believed there was a vein that led straight to the heart, beginning a custom that continues today across many cultures.  Several centuries later, in 1477, the tradition of diamond engagement rings began, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy with a delicate band adorned with diamonds in the shape of her first initial – winning her hand and heart over another suitor.

While the tradition of expressing one’s commitment has varied throughout the ages and across cultures, by the 1930s, the diamond engagement ring became a popular symbol to mark the promise of eternal love.  It was around this time that Harry Winston’s selection of the most exceptional jewels had made his name synonymous with the finest diamonds in the world – creating jewels so exquisite and so rare that they would forever serve as glittering reminders of our most cherished memories.

 
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