It wasn't long ago that women started wearing diamond engagement rings. During the 1870s, the sparkly hunks of carbon became a hot commodity when miners started discovering rich deposits of diamonds in South Africa. In 1888, several major South African mines banded together to form De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. The cartel controlled how many of the stones hit the world market, ensuring that they remained scarce and therefore valuable.
By the 1930s, diamond sales had slumped. To boost stagnating sales, De Beers partnered with New York ad agency N.W. Ayer to launch one of history’s most effective marketing plans. They aggressively encouraged America’s fashion-forward elite to don the gem, and in 1947 Ayer copywriter Frances Gerety made history when he coined the now-iconic phrase “A Diamond is Forever.” A diamond became such an essential part of wedding finery that within 20 years, 80 percent of American brides were sporting the sparkly accessories on their left hands.
While the diamond engagement ring’s popularity has ebbed and flowed over the past century, it’s still considered a bridal mainstay. Elle recently confirmed this, sharing the above video by Mode. It takes a look at how engagement ring settings have evolved over the past century—proving that even though a diamond is "forever,” our taste in jewelry is always changing. (For a full list of ring descriptions, check out the original video on YouTube.)
All images courtesy of iStock.