The diamond engagement ring can be traced back to Roman times where Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. However the oldest exchanging of wedding rings comes from Ancient Egypt where papyrus were braided into rings.
Many couples now buy promise rings which are worn until they have chosen an engagement ring together which seems to be a popular option nowadays giving the bride the opportunity to choose the design of her ring.
It is traditional for the engagement and wedding ring to be worn on the left hand ring finger as there was originally thought to be a vein in this finger running directly to the heart referred to as 'Vena Amoris'(vein of love).
In 1947 De Beers began the marketing campaign 'A diamond is forever' they focused on educating the public about the 4 Cs and ensured that diamonds were the main stone of choice for engagement rings.
The name diamond comes from the ancient Greek 'adamas' meaning unalterable, unbreakable so is the perfect choice of stone to symbolise a betrothal.
Diamonds are thought to have been first discovered and mined in India where they were found along the rivers at least 3000 years ago.
The circle was used as the symbol of eternity with no beginning or end, in many ancient cultures. The hole in the center is said to signify a gateway leading towards all things to come.
The most common feature of an eternity ring is that they are set with diamonds, traditionally being given after a significant anniversary or the birth of a child.
It is traditional for diamonds to be given for a couple's 60th Wedding anniversary.
Tennis bracelets were invented in the 20th Century using small individually set diamonds in a single row to form a bracelet. They were originally created for women with a more active lifestyle as an alternative to bangles and heavy bracelets. It wasn't until the 1987 US Open when Chris Evert asked officials to stop in the middle of a match because her diamond bracelet had come undone and dropped somewhere on the court and she needed time to search for it. It was since then that they have been referred to as 'Tennis bracelets'.
The Lesotho Promise
The Lesotho Promise was discovered at the Letseng diamond mine in Northern Lesotho, when rough it was 603 carats the 15th largest ever found. It was a complicated stone with many cracks and irregularities within it.
To allow the best yield from the rough it was cut into 26 diamonds in a range of shapes but all flawless and D colour.
All the diamonds were then set by Graff into one stunning piece, The Lesotho Promise necklace ensuring all the exquisite diamonds were kept together.
The Cullinan diamond is the largest diamond crystal ever discovered at 3106 carats in South Africa in 1905, it was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan the owner of the mine in which it was discovered the subsequently purchased by the government and given a as gift to King Edward VII.
The Cullinan was split and cut into 9 major stones and 96 smaller stones, the largest of which was The Cullinan I or The Star of Africa.
The Star of Africa is 530.20 carat pear cut diamond currently listed as the largest cut white diamond in the world. It is part of the Royal Scepter kept in the Tower of London, it can also be worn as a pendant or hung from Cullinan II as a brooch. Cullinan II or The Second Star of Africa is a 317.4 carat rectangular cushion cut diamond and is set in the front of the Imperial state crown.
The Blue Hope Diamond
Also known as 'Le Bijou de Roi' or 'Le blue de France' the Blue Hope Diamond has an elaborate history. It is said that a curse was placed on all who touched the Diamond after it was allegedly stolen by a man named Tavernier from an Idol in India. Originally weighing 112 3/16 carats the diamond has been recut several times to maximise its brilliance and now weighs 45.52ct, it is a stunning deep grayish-blue in colour.
In 1668 it was brought from Tavernier by King Louis XIV thereby taking its place in the French Crown Jewels. The diamond went on to be inherited by Louis XVI and his Queen Marie Antoinette who were beheaded during the French Revolution and according to the stories this was a consequence of the diamonds curse. It was not long after this in 1971 that the French Crown Jewels were stolen from the Garde-Meuble, most of which were soon recovered but the Blue Diamond was not.
It is then said to have resurfaced in London and eventually feel into the hands of the Hope family from whom it gets its name, however the family went bankrupt allegedly as a result of the diamonds curse and it was sold again.
Purchased first by an American jeweller the diamond changed hands frequently over a few years until it found a new owner in Evalyn Walsh Mclean, she was very fond of the stone and considered it a good luck charm. Others however saw the signs of the curse as Evalyn was hit my numerous family misfortunes and finally the diamond was sold after her death to recover debts.
The Blue Hope Diamond now resides in the Natural History Museum where it is visited by thousands every day.
The Koh-i-noor, meaning 'mountain of light' is a 105.6 carat diamond currently set in the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother. The diamond was first documented back in 1526 in the possession of Indian Conqueror Babur but was mentioned to belong to the Raja of Gwalior back in the 13th Century.
Many Rulers have owned this diamond throughout history and was it said to be famously set into the ornate Peacock Throne of Emperor Shah Jahan. Emperor Jahan was famous for the building of the Taj Mahal and later after he was imprisoned, the Koh-i-noor was positioned by a window so that he could see the Taj Mahal only by looking at its reflection in the diamond.
After the diamond came into the possession of the Brits it was re-cut by Mr Cantor to improve its sparkle and reduced down to 108.93ct, after this Queen Victoria would wear the diamond and left in her will that it could only be worn by a female Queen. The Koh-i-noor is now a part of the crown jewels.
The Taylor-Burton Diamond
The Taylor-Burton diamond was found in 1966 in the Premier mine in South Africa and weighed 241ct in rough.