Patek Philippe
Alberto Garzoli
Jewellery Advisor
March 2022

Solitaire ring: history and characteristics of the jewel symbol of love

The birth of the engagement ring is lost in the mists of time: it is said to have been invented by the ancient Egyptians and adopted by the Greeks. We know with certainty that in ancient Rome women used to wear rings made of ivory, flint, copper and iron to demonstrate feelings and bonds of love.
The first solitaire diamond ring dates back to 1477, when Archduke Maximilian I of Austria gave it to his future wife Mary of Burgundy. It was customary to wear the engagement ring on the ring finger of the left hand because at the time it was believed that a vein ran along that finger, leading directly to the heart.

The diamond solitaire: characteristics

The solitaire is the engagement ring par excellence, a symbol of eternal love. The iconic version is undoubtedly in white gold with a single diamond: strong, durable and unbreakable, it best represents an “indestructible” bond. The solitaire diamond represents love for only one person. The brilliant cut is obviously not the only one: emerald, cushion, oval and Marquise cuts can be used. The size of the stone is undoubtedly an aspect that the giver of the ring must take into account, but in a solitaire ring, the setting also plays a decisive role. What contributes greatly to the beauty of this jewel is the way in which it is set: the diamonds do not shine by their own light but reflect the light that passes through them, returning it to the eyes of those who admire them.

Solitaire ring: history and characteristics of the jewel symbol of love

The diamond setting in the solitaire

The setting can be different depending on requirements and taste. The most classic is the four griffes setting, better known as the “Valentino”: the evergreen of this ring, it is the one that best enhances the diamond because it allows the light to pass through it very easily. One might think that it is unsuitable for large stones, but obviously the structure of the griffes is proportionate to the size of the stone. The griffes can be reduced to three but the ring would lose symmetry, while it is not advisable to use only two griffes because they are not very safe. For particularly large gems, it is also possible to use settings with five or six griffes. When choosing a solitaire ring, what counts is not only the characteristics of the stone itself but also the type of setting.

Solitaire ring: history and characteristics of the jewel symbol of love

Solitaire rings and celebrities

Engagement solitaires have been a feature of the pink pages throughout the ages: emerald, baguette, brilliant, pear and teardrop cuts have all been seen on the fingers of showbiz personalities. Famous engagement rings have made their way through the pink pages and aroused the envy of many readers. One of the most famous, because it is also linked to royalty, is undoubtedly the sapphire given by Prince Charles of England to the then Lady Diana Spencer, now worn by his daughter-in-law Kate. Elizabeth Taylor’s love of jewellery is well known, which is why her engagement rings were also noteworthy. Of the eight weddings, the most famous is the solitaire she received from Richard Burton, worth an incredible nine million dollars. The list is long and the old adage still rings true: love may fade until it fades but a diamond is forever.

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