The Engaging Art of Romance

When the house of Tiffany & Co. was born so too was the engagement ring as we know it today. We take a look at how the fine jeweler revolutionized the beguiling art of courtship

The enduring legacy of Tiffany & Co. rests in its popularization of the ritual of engagement ring-giving, transforming it into the romantic and sacred ceremony held so dear among couples all over the world today.

The first engagement ring on record was set with a diamond and given to Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximilian of Hamburg in 1477. However, it was Tiffany & Co. founder Charles Lewis Tiffany who first introduced the extraordinary Tiffany® Setting to the jewelry world in 1886 that the trend of bestowing engagement rings to your lover really took off.

Before Tiffany's seminal ring was created, the diamonds of engagement rings were set in bezels. Mr. Tiffany’s ring, however, was scrupulously designed to show off the scintillating fire of exceptional diamonds. Tiffany's ground-breaking setting comprising six platinum prongs lifted the stone off the band, allowing maximium light to reflect off the stone.

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Sketch of the Tiffany® Setting, showing the six platinum prongs mirroring the symmetry of the diamond's cut, c. 1880s

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The Tiffany® Setting Engagement Ring, a classic based on a design that holds the diamond away from the band on six prongs, permitting more light through the diamond

“The simplicity of the style stood out at the turn-of-the-century,” says fine jewelry historian Marion Fasel. “Mr. Tiffany Americanized the concept of the engagement ring. He simplified it in the most direct, American way."

"While European women wore elaborate rings, Charles Lewis Tiffany understood that women really just wanted to see a beautiful stone that represented fidelity and an invincible relationship. He lifted the stone to the light in the purest and most romantic way."

The introduction of the revolutionary Tiffany® Setting, together with the purchase of the French Crown Jewels in 1887, solidified Tiffany’s reputation as the “King of Diamonds.” Of course, the jewelry house has since become synonymous with the finest gems and the sort of grand sweeping romance that has enthralled couples everywhere.

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Another image from the archives. This is a detailed sketch of various diamond rings with prices sent to one Mr. Wm. E. Wyatt of Maryland, who had requested a selection of rings that he might consider for engagement (c. 1896)

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Tiffany Legacy® diamond ring in platinum. Featuring a cushion-cut diamond with a setting of bead-set diamonds, it recalls the high glamour of the Edwardian era


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