History of the Proposal; Why a Kneeling Man with a Diamond Ring Became the Tradition

history of proposals

Now that it’s the month of love, it’s the ideal time to take a look at the many ways in which our society celebrates the iconic emotion. Fewer gestures excite romance and dreams than a proposal. In modern society, proposals have been erupting into grander and grander affairs every year. Or, perhaps there has always been exciting proposals, but today we get to see them more often on social media.

It does beg the question though, why do men get down on one knee? Why is it (almost) always a diamond ring? When did the concept of a proposal begin? Has it always been this way? In honor of a month that will be filled with couples deciding to commit forever, let’s take a stroll through the history of proposals!

Marriage Proposal History

Why is it The Man Who Proposes?

For centuries, in most cases, men were responsible for making money to support everyone. Because of this, a proposal generally occurred once a man deemed himself ready for the financial responsibility of a family.

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History of Kneeling to Propose

No one is quite sure when the concept of a man kneeling to ask for the hand of a lady began, it turns out. Yet, it is shown throughout history, that kneeling as a sign of honor and reverence has been going on for quite some time. In the days of the Knights, said Knights would kneel before their “lords” to receive honors. In ancient Christian paintings and artwork, there are many images of people kneeling before God. The idea of kneeling in humility before ones, hopeful, future wife fits in with why people kneel in other situations.

marriage proposal history

Why The Diamond Ring, Eh?

To be perfectly honest, the notion that a diamond ring is the way to go to propose was created by marketers. There are a few instances of engagement rings being given over the ages, but in most cases, they were used to show sincerity and as a form of insurance. Our modern notion of a diamond engagement ring came about with the extremely famous De Beers Jewelry advertising campaign.

In the late 1800s, a mining company hit the jackpot by finding a huge amount of diamonds in Africa. At this time, though, the demand for diamonds was minimal, so the company needed to create a demand. De Beers Jewelry was created, and in the 1930s and 40s the “Diamonds are Forever” advertising campaign began and is still known today as one of the most successful campaigns of all time. Seeing as how diamond rings are still the main factor in proposals, we can see why it’s considered a great success.

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The (Not So) Classic Diamond Ring Setting

As it happens, the diamond ring setting we’re all accustomed to, with the diamond being perched atop the band, is a relatively new concept. The engagement ring gurus at Tiffany & Co. introduced the above-the-band-setting in 1886. Before then, diamond rings were set in what is known as a bezel. In a bezel, the gemstone is on the same level as the band, drawing much less sparkle and shine, but still lovely nonetheless.

marriage proposal history

Today’s Proposals

There have been quite a few surveys done over the past decade trying to discern if women feel the desire to take on an equal role in proposing. The general consensus has been a resounding NO; women are quite content with their male counterparts asking the question and gifting the ring. Will we start seeing the roles reversed? Certainly! Women do propose to the men, but it’s still less common. More likely than not, though, female proposals will start to trend in the coming decades.

If you’re ready to pop the question, plan a wedding, or simply spend some quality time romancing your sweetheart, we’ve got the perfect venue for you! Visit us at Doral Arrowwood where we can either help you plan a romantic proposal, a wedding, or a cozy weekend for two! Happy love month!

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