Conventionally, the woman’s engagement ring is presented to her as a betrothal gift by a man to be his prospective spouse.
In North America the UK and South Africa, wedding and engagement rings are worn on the left hand ring finger. This custom has its origin from an ancient Egyptian myth that this finger contains a vein leading directly to the heart.
In Poland and the Ukraine, it is customary for the wedding ring to be worn on the right hand ring finger, while in Germany it is worn on the left hand while engaged, and moves to the right when married.
In Brazil, Sweden and Germany, both the man and the woman wear engagement rings.
The practice of giving or exchanging engagement rings began in 1477 when Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond ring as an engagement present.
The smallest engagement ring on record was given to two-year-old Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, when she was betrothed to the infant Dauphin of France, son of King Francis I, in 1518.
The word ‘diamond’ originated from the Greek word, ‘adamant’. It means steadfast or invincible.
The word ‘betrothed’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘troweth’, meaning truth. Betrothed means ‘giving a truth or pledge’.
The purpose of both a wedding and engagement ring is to promise eternal love, commitment and happiness. It is therefore a symbol of eternity between the giver and the recipient. A ring is of course a complete circle, with no end and no beginning – the perfect and most endearing symbol of such a promise.