Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Diamonds a Girls Best Friend? A Brief History of Engagement Rings by Kimberly Grist

Wedding Rings and Engagement Rings Traditions
While the exact beginning of the wedding ring tradition is a mystery, archaeological evidence of wedding rings has been found dating back thousands of years. The custom of wearing a ring on the third finger of the left hand is believed to have begun in Egypt. The Egyptians believed the vein of love, ran from the ring finger directly to the heart.

Fade Intaglio Ring, OMONOIA (harmony) Gold and carved onyx, 3rd Century, Roman. Source: Unknown
Wedding bands were simple and crafted out of iron or bronze. Gold and silver wedding bands were popular with royalty and the upper class and rings were exchanged in part to exchange wealth and as a symbol of a commitment to the marriage contract.
Beginning a tradition that would linger for centuries, in 1477, Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy with a diamond engagement ring. Maximilian wed Mary within 24 hours.
The smallest engagement ring on record was given to Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII at the age of two, on the event of her betrothal to the infant Dauphin of France, son of King Francis I, in 1518. Mary’s tiny ring was set with a diamond.  
A Legendary Love
At the age of 16, Queen Victoria met the love of her life, Prince Albert. It’s been said they took an instant liking to one another and were eventually encouraged to marry. Since she was already Queen at the time of her romance, Victoria had to propose to Prince Albert.
What may seem a peculiar choice today, at the time, snakes were a symbol of wisdom and commitment. Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a ring shaped like a serpent which included small rubies, diamonds and an emerald. Whatever Queen Victoria wore soon became fashionable and the snake ring enjoyed years of popularity.
In the 19th century, acrostic jewelry became popular. Each gem was assigned a letter of the alphabet. For example, amethyst for A, blue topaz for B, and so on. Those who desired to send a secret message or create a meaningful engagement ring like one Victorian favorite would choose, Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, Turquoise - Dearest. 

After the discovery of the diamond mines in South Africa in 1870, 
these gems became accessible and affordable to the middle class. 

Due to the availability of newly mined gold and the discovery of African diamond mines, the betrothal ring transitioned to the “engagement ring” in the late 1800s.

Many engagement rings included the bride's birthstone. 
Rings often included multiple gemstones and coral, ivory seed pearls.  

Popular motifs included natural themes like butterflies, clover, garlands, daisies, doves, Gothic symbols and as previously mentioned snakes. 

Garnets were a popular stone used in jewelry in the 19th century. Cultures all over the world prize this gemstone for its beauty and durability. The traditional birthstone for January, it has inspired many legends and popular associations with love and friendship. It also happens to be the first name of our heroine, in my latest release, Garnet's Gift 

Twenty-two-year-old Garnet Adams longs to marry and have a houseful of children. Forced to support her widowed mother, she embraces her role as teacher, although the Carrie Town board of education's rules for female teachers leave no opportunity for a social life. She contents herself to play the violin at church. Tall, bearded, and rough around the edges, Deputy Noah Scott would rather hunt than socialize. Garnet thinks he’s a rude, insensitive drifter, and Noah's sure the last person he'd want to court is a schoolmarm--especially with her unladylike sneeze. As the needs of her students bring them together, opposites seem to attract until a certain Christmas present derails their future.

Chapter 1
1890 – Rules for Teachers
You must be home between the hours of six a.m. and before dark
unless attending church on Sunday or a school function.

Twenty-two-year-old Garnet Adams loosened the violin bow hair, deposited it in the wooden case with her instrument and snapped it closed. She ran her finger along the engraved letters. The violin once belonged to her father—the last gift he gave her on her fifteenth birthday six months before his death.
Garnet’s eyes drifted along the white clapboard walls she’d grown to love over the last year and landed on the darkening landscape outside the church’s window. She opened the pendant pinned to her jacket to check the time and blew out a breath.
Garnet’s boots tapped across the wooden floors of the sanctuary toward the front entrance. Where was Victoria? She’d agreed to stay after choir practice to give them additional time to rehearse for an upcoming service. Knowing the time restraint, Victoria promised to give her a ride home.
A burst of wind greeted her when she stepped out of the double doors of the church, causing a dark lock of hair to escape her pins. Garnet forced the unruly curl behind her ear.
The sound of voices made her turn toward Pastor Nelson, who stood nearby with a group of children. “Thank you, Miss Adams, for agreeing to lend us your talent with the children’s nativity drama, and we also look forward to hearing you play on Sunday.”
“I’m excited about the opportunity. My teaching job keeps me busy with the children. But it’s wonderful to communicate with adults even if it’s only for an hour.” The train whistle drew her attention toward the railroad station. The light shining from the hotel and diner reminded her darkness would soon descend on the boardwalk.
“I’m looking for Miss Wilson. She was going to give me a ride home.”
Pastor Nelson gazed in the direction of a retreating buggy. “I’m afraid you just missed her.” He motioned to the children. “Once their father returns from the livery, I’ll be happy to walk you over.”
Garnet took a deep breath and gathered her skirts. “I’m afraid I can’t wait. The school board requires me to be in my room before dark.” Rule number one, in bold handwriting and underlined, lest I forget. She frowned and cast a glimpse toward the small town. From her stance she could make out the hotel, diner and dress shop. The boardinghouse was about a ten-minute walk. ”It’s only a few blocks. I’ll be fine.”
Pastor Nelson’s face brightened. He waved his long arms toward a figure approaching them. “Deputy Scott, we require your assistance, please.”
The elongated silhouette of a tall man wearing a cowboy hat ate up the distance. A tin star hung on his vest, reflecting light from the lantern which hung from the church’s porch. With broad shoulders and a narrow waist, he sauntered toward her, his Peacemaker resting in a double-loop holster over his right hip. “What seems to be the problem?” The man’s voice was a rough bass.
“Would you be so kind as to ensure Miss Adams gets to the boardinghouse? There was a misunderstanding and her escort left without her.” The pastor glanced toward the lilac afterglow above the fading light from the setting sun. “She needs to be inside the boardinghouse before dark to avoid reprimand from the school board.”
The deputy nodded. “We’d best get a move on then.” He extended his arm and inclined his head toward the boardwalk.
Garnet felt more pulled than guided and struggled to keep up with the long strides of the deputy. She gasped for breath. “Could we please slow down a little?”
“Not if you want to make it to the boardinghouse before dark.” A shadow partially concealed his face, but Garnet could make out the set in his square jaw.
“Either way, I would like to arrive alive,” Garnet huffed.
The deputy stopped and pushed his hat to the back of his head. It was difficult to see his expression under his full beard. Did his mouth just twitch?
He reached for her violin case. “Ready?”
Garnet laid her hand over her stomach and took a deep breath. “Yes.”
Deputy Scott offered his arm. “You’re going to have to make more of an effort if you want to keep your job.”
Garnet gritted her teeth but accepted his assistance. The nerve of the man. How fast could he run wearing a layer of petticoats and a corset? “I don’t believe the school board would be happy to see me running across town either. But I do appreciate the escort.”
Deputy Scott nodded and guided her across the dusty street, which ran behind the mercantile and the diner. She would have preferred remaining on the boardwalk but understood the strategy of the shortcut. The dust kicked up from the deputy’s heavy work boots caused her to sneeze, loudly and consecutively.
Deputy Scott pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. “Wouldn’t have expected a sound like that to come from a schoolteacher. Not exactly prim and proper.”
Garnet felt her cheeks burn and sneezed again, this time burying her face in the neckerchief. If she weren’t already struggling to breathe, she would love to give the man a lesson on etiquette.
“But then again, I expect most teachers would have been more conscious of the hour.” He opened his pocket watch and gave her a curt nod. “Next time you might want to leave earlier.”
Clinching her skirts, Garnet hurried up the stairs to the boardinghouse. “Thank you for your help, Deputy.” Their fingers brushed as she reached for her instrument.
“Ma’am.” He tipped his hat.
Garnet stared into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. She opened and closed her fists. “The reason for the delay was to help a friend. But I’ve learned my lesson and won’t let her talk me into staying late again.” Why do I feel the need to explain myself?
“Since autumn has arrived, it gets dark early.” Deputy Scott opened the door to the boardinghouse and nodded toward the train station. “There are a lot of people coming and going. But even if you didn’t have a curfew, it’s best not to be out by yourself.” He pivoted and disappeared into the darkness.
Garnet blinked, her nose twitched and she sneezed loudly into the deputy’s handkerchief. At the sound of a deep chuckle, heat rose from her neck to the roots of her hair.

Connect with Kimberly:

Combining History, Humor and Romance with an emphasis on Faith, Friends and Good Clean Fun. Kim's stories are written to remind us how God can use adversity to strengthen us and draw us closer to Him and give us the desires of our heart in ways we may never expect.
Website: https://kimberlygrist.com/


  1. Hi Kimberly,
    Thanks for sharing the fascinating information about gemstones and engagement rings in our beloved nineteenth century. Enjoyed, very much.
    Kristin Holt

  2. I had wondered when engagement rings became the norm. Thank you. I also have a heroine named Garnet in a book with the same title. I like the name and believe it to be unusual.

  3. thanks very informative article...
    i suggest you before making any decision to buy real diamond rings you should confirm first that from where are you purchasing. is that reputated jeweller or what. i am sharing you a seller who has a very good quality Engagement rings for women which you will going to love that