All posts in Engagement Ring News

Shopping for a Vintage Engagement Ring? Look to the 1940s!

Capture the Essence! of 1940s Vintage with this 18k Gold and Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of 1940s Vintage with this 18k Gold and Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Once again, decadence returned to fashion in the 1940s. Glamour neared its peak, with the faces of Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Bette Davis leading the pack. The jewelry industry took a turn back toward yellow gold, and diamonds were en vogue for engagement rings.

As with nearly every decade, bridal jewelry erred on the conservative side, with modest and largely plain bands and classic diamond cuts. Platinum continued to hold a place on the wedding scene, though yellow gold most definitely dominated.

The round brilliant cut was making more of an impression, though the more traditional (at the time) transitional and Old Euro cuts continued to hold their own. Blue sapphires and rubies maintained a slight presence on the scene, though the diamond was definitely king of the 1940s.

Are you shopping for a lady that exudes class, sophistication, and a touch of decadent elegance?

Then look no further than EraGem’s 1940s vintage engagement rings. Give us a call today, so we can outfit you with a dreamy ring for your proposal!

Diamond Eternity Rings Are Making a Debut as Engagement Rings

Capture the Essence! of Eternity with this Square Step-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring in Platinum. Photo ©EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Eternity with this Square Step-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring in Platinum. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Traditionally, diamond eternity bands were given as a gift from husband to wife on a significant anniversary. More recently, though, according to Today Style, couples are beginning to choose an eternity band as a stand-in for an engagement ring. This trend appears to be developing in sync with the increased popularity of stackable rings and bracelets.

The versatility and simplicity of eternity bands create a perfect foil for celebrities to hide their engagements from the paparazzi. Since eternity bands are low-profile, it’s easy to stack several bands together, even alternating them day by day to throw the media off their scent. In January, Ben Foster proposed to Robin Wright with two simple golden bands which the actress sports on her left ring finger. One is a golden lover’s knot, and the other is an eternity ring.

In keeping with the notion of wearing multiple bands on one finger, rather than purchasing a separate wedding ring at the time of their union, a couple can opt to add an anniversary band on their 5- or 10-year anniversary. Not only does this decrease the initial impact to their wedding budget, but also allows the freedom to change styles over time. For those more trendy brides, this option has a tremendous amount of appeal.

Eternity bands come in all shapes and sizes, from wide bands with ornate detailing and evenly spaced gemstones, to narrow bands studded all around with diamonds or gemstones, to half-eternity bands with stones lining only the face of the band. They come in a wide range of precious metals, including platinum, yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, and more. They can be intricately carved without stones, or they can be studded with stones of varying colors.

Truly, there is an eternity band for every style, every taste, and every whimsy. We invite you to make an appointment to come and see our wide selection of beautiful eternity bands.

Shopping for a Vintage Engagement Ring? Look to the 1930s!

Capture the Essence! of 1930s Vintage with this Diamond and Platinum Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of 1930s Vintage with this Diamond and Platinum Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Are you drawn to the sophisticated styles of such mavens of fashion as Ginger Rogers, Joan Crawford, or Norma Shearer?

Well, you’re in luck, because we have a number of beautiful vintage engagement rings that drip with 1930s glam.

As the decadence and extravagance of the 1920s gave way to the sensuality and sophistication of the 1930s, jewelry design turned toward more classic understated styles. Engagement rings from this period, while lending a nod to the architectural lines of Art Deco jewelry, became more streamlined, developing swiftly into what we now call the classic look. The gemstones of choice were white diamonds and blue sapphires.

Most brides-to-be wore a ring with a modest center stone, typically an Old Euro Cut diamond, an oval-cut or cushion-cut blue sapphire, or a transitional-cut diamond. Although solitaires were popular, a fair portion of 1930s engagement rings were decorated with a variety of accent stones,  typically single-cut, transitional-cut, or baguette diamonds.

On occasion, the Art Deco trend of using small triangular-cut or baguette blue sapphires carried over in a small number of early 1930s engagement rings. Platinum and white gold were the metals of choice, and often these simple simple tapering bands were embellished with filigree.

We would love to show you our selection of 1930s vintage engagement rings in person. Just drop us a line to schedule an appointment.

Turkish Engagement Traditions

Mens Scott Kay Javlin Diamond Wedding Band Brushed PlatinumTraditional Turkish marriages were once arranged by the parents of the couple. While this practice is still in effect in parts of Eastern Turkey, a majority of Turks choose life partners of their own accord. Once a partner is chosen, however, the path toward marriage is typically paved by the traditions that encompass the blessing and participation of their close-knit extended families.

Meet the Parents

Once a couple has chosen to marry, the next step is to meet each others’ parents. Without the approval of their parents, it is unlikely that the couple would proceed to marriage, regardless of the depth of their love for each other. Thus, though these initial steps toward marriage are rituals based on tradition, they do carry a lot of weight in the culture still.

The first step is to meet each others’ parents. These are formal affairs, where everyone dresses in their best and hosting family members take time away from their daily routines to prepare a special meal for their guest of honor. After dinner is eaten together, traditional sweets, tea, and fruit are served and a conversation commences. If the families approve, then a date is set for both families to meet each other to continue the progression.

None of these are casual affairs, such as we would arrange in America. Rather, they are all formal events laced with tradition. According to said tradition, when it’s time for the families to meet, they converge at the home of the bride-to-be’s parents. When the day arrives, her family prepares the food and helps her get ready. It is typical for the woman to visit a salon for hair and makeup. These meetings are considered a formal cause for celebration, so everyone dresses up and often important members of their extended families are invited, as well.

Turkish Coffee

The man’s family will arrive at the door with a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers in hand. This signifies a request to eat sweet and then talk sweet, and expresses clearly their intent to ask for her hand in marriage for their son. While some families actually declare their intent by asking outright, others allow the sweets and flowers to do the talking for them. Both ways are acceptable.

Once the guests have been properly greeted and the small talk is well under way, the bride-to-be commences with the first of the evening’s traditions: making Turkish coffee. A perfect cup of Turkish java has bubbles on top, and this test of her skill is the one his parents will claim to use to determine her potential as a good wife. Not to worry, inherent in this custom is a test of the groom-to-be’s character, as well.

The bride-to-be is encouraged to put salt in his coffee. If he is able to drink it without showing his displeasure, he will have demonstrated to her parents that he is able to show patience in the difficult days they will face in their future. As with most customs like these, this is an opportunity for the families to have fun together and not a true test of their character.

Humor aside, the next portion of the evening is a solemn affair, conducted by the oldest member of the groom-to-be’s family. He speaks to her family on behalf of the man, announcing his intention to request permission to marry their daughter/granddaughter. An elder of the bride-to-be’s family replies with their assent (hopefully), and then the couple take turns kissing the backs of their elders’ hands. As a symbol of sweet harmony between the families, sherbet is poured and everyone drinks to the arrangement.

The Rings & A Ribbon

Once the families drink the sherbet together, they choose an auspicious date for the engagement party. In cases where the families have known each other for a long time, or when the couple wishes to wed quickly, this event can be combined with the initial meeting of the families. Traditionally, however, the engagement party is a separate event, another opportunity to fix a fancy meal, get all dressed up, and celebrate the good life.

Between the meeting of the families and the engagement party, the groom-to-be’s mother will take her future daughter-in-law shopping for a new dress, fancy shoes, and engagement bands. These bands are typically gold, though they can be silver or platinum, as well, and they can run the gamut of styles, from simple plain bands to ornately engraved bands. At another time, the mother of the groom-to-be also sets out to purchase a very special gift for her future daughter, which she will present to her at the party.

On their chosen date, invitations are sent to close family and friends, and once again the families converge at the bride-to-be’s parents’ home. Lunch is served, with the women and men typically segregated, and afterward the customary rituals begin.

Jewelry and More Jewelry

First the mother of the groom-to-be presents her future daughter-in-law with the gift she purchased ahead of time: a lovely parure, including a necklace, a bracelet, and a pair of earrings. At this time, other distinguished members of both families are free to present the bride with gifts as well, usually more jewelry.

Shortly thereafter, the engagement rings, tied together by a red ribbon, are brought out by the bride-to-be and an appointed family representative on a special presentation tray. This representative (typically an elder aunt or grandparent of one of the families) offers a word of intent and blessing and then places the rings on the bride and groom’s right ring fingers. In some families the couple will spend the rest of the evening joined by their rings and the red ribbon, but in others the rings are cut by the family representative with a specially decorated pair of scissors.

Afterwards, the youngest members of the families bring out the engagement cakes, and the families continue with harmonious conversation. In some households, it is customary for the youngest members of the families to join the newly engaged couple for a night out on the town, thus ending the party.

This engagement period is slightly different from ours in the States, as Turkish culture allows that the couple may or may not proceed to the altar from here. Even though expensive gifts are given, and even though rings are exchanged, the engagement period is one in which the families are expected to test their mutual good will. Much depends on this harmony between the families, and so there is a bit less pressure on the couple. The possibility of marriage is wide open and hoped for, but the arrangement is not actually as binding in Turkey at this point as it seems to be in America.

More Gifts

As the months progress toward the wedding celebrations, the couple’s families begin to lavish them with gifts in preparation for their new life together. Furniture and household goods are provided for the couple, so that when the wedding comes there is no need for the guests to bring gifts of tea towels, punch bowls, china, and mixing bowls. Instead, they rain upon her with money. Forget the money tree, the Turkish bride becomes the fount of all blessing as she is literally showered with bills and coins and gold. And this is after the henna night and an exchange of yet another set of rings, these worn on the left ring finger, and a series of parties and festivals that can last for weeks on end.

What a rich and glorious tradition, yes?!?

Lauren Scruggs Said Yes to Jason Kennedy AND to a Jennifer Meyer Radiant-Cut Cushion-Shaped Diamond Engagement Ring

Capture the Essence! of Lauren Scruggs' diamond sparkler with this 1.5-Carat Cushion-Shaped Diamond Halo Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Lauren Scruggs’ diamond sparkler with this 1.5-Carat Cushion-Shaped Diamond Halo Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

We’ve been captivated by reports of the perfect surprise proposal carried out by Jason Kennedy for Lauren Scruggs at her Dallas apartment. However, it has been a tad bit disappointing that her beautiful diamond designer engagement ring has been given no more than a sideways glance.

Of course, the proposal was absolutely romantic, complete with an apartment filled with white tulips and a yard filled with a candle-lit message. Jason ensured that those people most important to Lauren, her family, were present to witness as he dropped to one knee and declared his intentions, and photos flood the web documenting her acceptance, given also on her knees.

Of course, it’s not wonder with a story as inspiring and dramatic as Lauren’s that the so-called minor, more personal issue of her ring have faded into the background. In several interviews over the past few years, the courageous fashion expert has publicly shared openly about her horrific accident, her trying recovery, and her bleak outlook on the possibility of future love.

In her book, Still Lolo, written a few years before meeting Jason, Lauren wrote of her ideal partner, what she called “the ultimate boyfriend” and described as “…tall; beachy good looks; laid-back yet driven personality; tender and caring; funny and genuine; a heart for God; a clear direction in life” {p. 4}.

Sounds like a tall order, and one she gave up on until the day she stepped onto the set of Dateline NBC for an on-air interview with Natalie Morales. Somewhere nearby, as Ms. Scruggs expressed her deepest fears after the accident, that “no guy would ever think I was attractive again, much less would want to marry me”, E! News co-host, Jason Kennedy, was watching her in awe, thinking to himself, “I would love to marry a girl like that.”

A year later, he was on his knees, slipping a gorgeous Jennifer Meyer ring onto her right ring finger. And as most of Hollywood already knows, Jason is Lauren’s perfect match. Driven and purposeful, successful and definitely sporting those beachy good looks, Jason Kennedy also has a heart for God and, as Ms. Scruggs told Ms. Morales, “he just loves people well, loves me well, and is fun and funny.”

And there you have it, another article about Lauren Scruggs and Jason Kennedy and their engagement with only a scant mention of the ring. Ah! But we’re not finished yet.

Here are some details I was able to gather on her gorgeous ring:

  1. It was made, probably bespoke, by Jennifer Meyer, an LA-based jewelry designer who strives to strike “the perfect balance of understated elegance and unparalleled quality” {cited: jennifermeyer.com}.
  2. Since Jennifer Meyer typically fashions her jewels in white or yellow gold, the band and setting are likely made of white gold.
  3. The central diamond is a radiant-cut cushion-shaped diamond of an undisclosed carat size {cited}.
  4. In some photos, the central diamond appears to be surrounded by a halo of smaller diamonds. This halo, if it is not an optical illusion, looks to be tucked tightly around the center stone, which appears to be set in cathedral style atop the band.
  5. The narrow tapering band is studded with pavé diamonds, ensuring maximum sparkle from every angle.
  6. She wears the absolutely beautiful ring, an elegant choice for an elegant lady, on her right hand, the one uninjured in her accident.

Pearls: The Quintessential Wedding Gemstone

Antique Pearl & Diamond Three Stone Ring

Pearls are not only the birthstone of those born in June, but they rival the diamond for the title of Quintessential Wedding Gemstone. It’s true that diamonds have taken center stage for the past century, but the pearl appears to hold the record for being the gemstone longest associated with bridal tradition.

There are a number of legends recorded in ancient Hindu texts detailing what may be the very earliest use of pearls in weddings. In the Rig Veda, dating back to around 1000 BC, Krishna, a divine incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, dives into the ocean. He arises from the depths with the first pearl ever seen and presents it to his beloved daughter on her wedding day. In another legend, this same Krishna is said to have received a grand pearl as a reward for defeating the great monster called Pankagna. Krishna is said to have adorned his bride with the pearl on their wedding day.

Because of their close resemblance to and association with the moon, pearls have assumed the same symbolism credited to that lunar celestial body–that of purity and love. The Ancient Greeks believed that the beautiful gifts of the sea would bestow upon a bride pure marital bliss. Other cultures believed they would ensure love, happiness, and harmony. Not only are pearls credited with bringing strength to the bonds between husband and wife, but they have also long been believed to confer wealth and status, both implied and actual.

This particular association between the pearls and wealth has continued throughout the ages. By the time our modern-day customs were being birthed in the halls of the European royal courts, pearls were everywhere, never more so than in France in the House of Burgundy, where royal weddings were inundated with pearls. The brides wore them, of course, but so also did their wedding attendants and wedding guests. Even male well-wishers wore the white beauties.

The trend continued into the British Royal Courts, where almost every queen and princess wore pearls on her wedding day. Even Queen Elizabeth II wore pearls on her special day, as did Jackie Kennedy. Our current First Lady also wore a stunning pair of drop earrings featuring exquisite pearl drops.

So, if you’re choosing pearls for your wedding day, you are making a decidedly royal choice.

 

Courteney Cox Eludes the Press with Several Engagement Rings

Capture the Essence! of Courteney Cox's showstopping Tribeca Film Festival bling with this Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring with three rows of Pave Diamonds on a Plaintum Band. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Courteney Cox’s showstopping Tribeca Film Festival bling with this Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring with three rows of Pave Diamonds on a Platinum Band. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Just today Courteney Cox and Johnny McDaid made their official announcements via Twitter. The simple statements, “I’m engaged to him,” and “I’m engaged to her,” captioned an identical selfie of their calm and happy faces.

For a few months now, Ms. Cox has been seen sporting a blingy ring (or possibly two) on that finger, sending the rumors flying. When asked directly if she was wearing an engagement ring, Ms. Cox downplayed the whole thing with a “this-old-thing” attitude and an almost self-conscious attempt to distract the reporter from the question at hand.

The ring appeared to be a diamond-studded sparkler with a wide crown and a tapering band that looked to be completely paved in white diamonds. She wore it to the Tribeca Film Festival, which she attended in April for her feature-length directorial debut, Just Before I Go.

Just last night she sported what appears to be a different ring (or several rings) on that same finger. The blurry paparazzi photos make it hard to tell just what’s going on, but if I were to guess I’d say it’s a swirling gold or rose gold band nestled against a thin-banded platinum or white gold ring with a single diamond. This could be another of her rings that she’s worn for ages, it could be the same one she wore to the film festival, or it could be the one.

Aside from their official Twitter announcements, the couple appears to be playing a bit of a cat-and-mouse game with the press. Stellar of them, don’t you think? If we find out more, we’ll be sure and let you know. Until then, we wish the pair all the happiness in the world.

Hindoo Traditions of Marriage and Their Western Counterparts

Capture the Essence! of Hindoo good fortune with this Basket of Pearls Charm Pendant made of 14k yellow gold. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Hindoo good fortune with this Basket of Pearls Charm Pendant made of 14k yellow gold. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Those born in June are fortunate to count not one, but three precious stones as their birthstones: pearl, moonstone, and alexandrite. Of these, the pearl is most frequently seen in wedding and engagement jewelry. The Western tradition of using pearls in weddings dates back at least as far as the British infatuation with the Hindoos of Mount Meru in India, to whom pearls symbolized good fortune and were often poured over the bride and groom as an omen of good fortune.

It is important to clarify that our modern term Hindu is a derivative of this original settlement in Hindoostan, located in Northern India between the Himalaya and Vindhya Mountains. While today Hindus live in several regions of India and demonstrate a wide variety of cultures and traditions, in the early 1800s Hindoos were a people who defied, not by might but by knowledge, several attempts at conquest by otherwise formidable conquerors.

So civilized were they, so steeped in their traditions and influential, that even those who did succeed in taking ground were quickly assimilated into the culture they were trying to conquer. This caught the attention of many British writers and explorers, one of whom wrote this about them in 1834:

These strangers, whose success affords the most extraordinary example on record of the triumph of knowledge and civilization over brute force, are now intrusted [sic] with the destinies of Indai, which forms, in the strictest sense of the word, a province of the British empire. The Hindoo therefore, though divided from us by a vast extent of sea and land, is our fellow-citizen; and for this reason we are deeply interested in comprehending his character, his manners, his religion, and the nature of the country which he inhabits. {1}

A People Not Unacquainted with Luxury and Wealth

Even a cursory look at the literature on pearls and other precious gemstones will afford many mentions of the elaborate costumes and customs of the Hindoo people, including the royals. These were a people not unacquainted with luxury and wealth in the form of personal adornment.

According to Sarah Maria Burnham, author of Precious Stones in Nature, Art, and Literature, written in 1886, the Hindoo princes wore necklaces and ornaments which “were mines of costly gems” {2}. One such specimen, a neck ornament “captured by the Sultan Mahmoud, composed of large pearls, rubies, and other costly materials, was valued at half a million dollars” {3}. In 1886!!

It would seem, according to these writers and others, that our western wedding customs may owe a debt to this great Indian culture.

The Hindoo Traditions of Marriage

Let us examine the Hindoo traditions of marriage, with a close look at the role pearls played during the ceremony. Perhaps we shall find some connections between these traditions of old and our modern ones.

The Choice of a Lover

It begins, as all love stories begin, with the choice of a lover. For these Hindoos of the 1800s, this process began around the age of 16, for the boys, far, far younger for the girls. According to Mr. Charles Knight, there is an extensive list of what types of girls not to choose, with a strong admonition to “choose for a wife a girl whose form has no defect, who has an agreeable name, who walks gracefully, like a phenicopteros [sic] or like a young elephant; whose hair and teeth are moderate respectively in quantity and size, whose body has an exquisite softness” {4}.

Well, here we see that the hope of finding a mate with physical appeal does cross over from Hindoo to Western traditions, although we would look for a lady whose grace and elegance mirrored that of a swan or a gazelle, as opposed to an elephant or flamingo.

Hope of a Favorable Response

With a modest gift, the boy’s father approaches the girl’s family in hopes of a favorable response. This is not unlike our custom of the young man approaching the girl’s father for permission to marry. Alas, western fathers, the only gift you receive is the man at your right hand who will become your son if you say yes.

After her father approves, a date is fixed for the wedding. These elaborate ceremonies took place primarily during only four months–March, April, May, or June. “The selection of the four summer months for the celebration of marriage is traced by some writers to superstitions, and by others to civil motives. The labours of the field being most wholly suspended during that portion of the year, on account of the intense heat, more leisure, it is observed, is then afforded for the proper conducting of this important transaction” {5}.

In the West, as in the East, April, May, and June appear to remain the most common months for marriages to take place. This may be due to Hindoo influence on Western culture, or it may also be the result of western superstitions–spring being the season of new beginnings, symbolized by the emergence of new life after the slumber of winter.

A Raucous Party

The night before a Hindoo wedding took place, the women of both families turned up the “rude loud music” {6} and set burning lamps beside the exterior doors of their home. This was seen as a sign for the women to declare their good wishes over the couple, and so they did. Along with their greetings, they brought balls of rice paste which were eaten with the bride and bridegroom.

From these origins it is possible that our customary bachelor and bachelorette parties owe their derivation, though this is perhaps a bit of a stretch. I suppose it would also be a stretch to suppose that the tradition of throwing rice came from the eating of rice balls? Actually, we will see soon a more direct link between Hindoo tradition and our Western custom of throwing rice (now birdseed since rice is bad for the birds).

After a brief respite of sleep, the feminine revelers gathered again, this time to present to the neighbors gifts of betel (the leaf of a pepper plant which when eaten produces euphoric effects). Upon returning to the house, they would bind the two young lovers together with thread upon a bamboo frame. The couple was then doused in fragrant oils, after which they exchanged between themselves a gift of betel, fruit, and sweetmeats. Soon after, their heads were shaved.

Afterward, the women placed a large stone in the center of an artificial pond, surrounded by trees replete with illumined lamps. The bridegroom took his place upon the stone, and the women lined up to touch his forehead with various offerings. This symbolized the end of the second raucous party. For this, there appears to be no western counterpart.

The Procession

Often the bridegroom would travel a fair distance to the bride’s home. This procession took place in the evening, sometimes taking two or three hours. During this time, a man of distinction would travel in style, perhaps “superbly dressed, glittering with golden ornaments, and having a gorgeous crown upon his head” {7}. He will be carried aloft in a palanquin borne by servants, attended by more servants who will fan him during the ride.

Ahead of him might have ridden a company of singers and dancers, as well as myriad animals, some dressed to the nines and bearing drums that beat in rhythm as the company proceeded. Attendants carrying torches and fireworks lit the way, and sometimes guns were fired at intervals, as well.

Once the bridegroom was delivered safely to the bride’s home, her father dressed him in new garments and led him to the stool upon which he would stand for the opening of the ceremony. The bride was carried in on another stool which was draped in the garments shed by the arriving bridegroom. Her attendants carried her seven times around her lover, and then the two rose to gaze upon one another before sitting before their guests.

Special rituals were then performed by the bride’s father, and the two were bound by a garland of flowers. Later the flowers were removed, and more rituals were performed. Again, the two were bound together, this time by their garments, and led back to their families. Following is the one ritual, that of the joining of their hands and the pouring of a drink offering over the couple’s united palms, in honor of the god Vishnu, and the solemn oath of resignation from the girl’s father that she is no longer his but her husbands, which presided as the formal substance of their formal union.

Again, there appear to be no western counterparts to these many rituals, although our custom of the father of the bride giving his daughter away and the families giving their consent to release her into her new husband’s care may find trace origins from this Hindoo custom.

The Jewel of Hindoo Marriage

Following this solemn custom is one that includes the first mention of jewelry in Mr. Knight’s account. Several more special ceremonies were conducted by the presiding guests, after which a partition of silk was fashioned by several members of the wedding party. The couple was seated within this partition, at which time the tahly, a small pendant of gold which the woman would wear as her sign of marriage for the duration of their bond, was presented. Engraved with the form of one of their caste’s deities, the pendant was brought in on a silver tray surrounded by sweet flowers and blessed by the bride’s attendants. After the bride turned to the east, her bridegroom while reciting a mantra would tie the ornament about her neck on a cord of dyed yellow thread composed of 108 threads.

Pearls As An Omen of Good Fortune

After even more ceremonies were conducted by the bride and groom, the attendants brought out two bamboo baskets into which the bride and groom are expected to step. Two more baskets are presented. These baskets, if presented to a wealthy couple of import, were filled with pearls. In the case of lower classes, ground rice or corn was substituted. The bride and groom would take turns pouring the contents of these baskets over the other’s head as an omen of their good fortune.

It would seem that the tahly has been replaced in our western culture by the exchanging of wedding rings, and the closest we come to pouring pearls over the heads of the happy couple is the tossing of rice (now birdseed) as they exit the chapel.

Thus concludes our exploration of the traces of Hindoo marriage traditions on our more modern Western customs. I highly recommend reading the whole narration in Mr. Knight’s book. It is filled with rich imagery, which explains much of why the Brits were so fascinated by the colorful habits of the Hindoos.

Notes

  1. Knight, Charles, The Hindoos, Volume 1, Library of Entertaining Knowledge, Great Britain: William Clowes for Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knoweldge, 1834, p. 2.
  2. Burnham, Sarah Maria, Precious Stones in Nature, Art, and Literature, Boston: Bradlee Whidden, 1886, p. 110.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Knight, Charles, p. 267.
  5. Ibid., p. 268.
  6. Ibid., p. 268.
  7. Ibid., p. 269-270.

Five Romantic, Budget-Friendly Proposal Locations in Seattle

1930s Antique Engagement Ring with Old Euro Diamond

Let’s face it. You’d love to fly your sweetheart to the Swiss Alps and fill and igloo with rose petals like Seal did for Heidi Klum, but that is way outside your budget. So, where do you take her to show her the depth of your affection without breaking the bank?

Here we offer five romantic proposal locations in Seattle, all of which are within 20 miles of our Bellevue showroom. We’ll have her engagement ring ready for you the day of your big occasion (don’t forget to make an appointment). Ring in hand, you’ll be ready to whisk your sweetheart off to the romantic destination of your choice.

  1. Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill. Queen Anne Hill, with its stately homes and majestic views, offers the perfect setting for a romantic walk filled with dreaming and hoping. Find a parking place and stroll for several blocks hand in hand. Ensure that your leisurely pace finds you at Kerry Park at sunset, when the views are the most majestic. (If you prefer a more private encounter, go later at night, after most folks are in their armchairs watching TV.) At anytime of day, the views from Kerry Park are stunning. Seattle’s most exquisite sights can be seen from this vantage point, including the Space Needle and Lake Union. And on a clear day you can see Mount Rainier in the distance. At night, these sites are all lit up, taking the romance to a whole new level. (This venue is free, though you may want to bring change in case you run into a parking meter.)
  2. University of Washington Arboretum. Park your car at the visitors center and set out for a walk through the botanical wonderland of Seattle’s University of Washington Arboretum. Several benches are secreted away within stands of tall magnolias, lindens, and birches. Some of these benches have pristine water views, including Curtis Pond or Coyote Pond situated in a beautiful prairie setting. These beautiful natural landscapes offer the perfect setting for a romantic proposal. If you’d like, you can park instead at the Spring Trail Lot or the Arbor Drive Lot and take your sweetheart on a hike through the beautiful marshes of Lake Wingra. Or, you can stroll across the Wilcox Footbridge, a stunning old concrete wonder built in 1911. Stopping midway, you can bend to your knee and slip the ring out of your pocket in classic proposal style. Any of these hideaways, peppered throughout 200 acres of beautiful mature landscaping, offer numerous opportunities to make a private or public proposal. (This venue is free, including parking, though if you wish to propose in the Japanese Garden, there is an entry fee.)
  3. Volunteer Park, Capitol Hill. Just south of Roanoake Park, between Eastlake and Capitol Hill, rests a beautiful park with a history dating back to the late 1800s. While the park’s 48 acres offer many beautiful options for proposing beneath the shade of one of the many towering Western Red Cedars, there are two ultra-romantic spots to make your move. The first is a beautiful Victorian conservatory, built in 1912 by the Olmsted brothers. Stepping through the glass-paned doors, you are immediately transported into a tropical wonderland complete with towering bananas, tree ferns, palm trees, birds of paradise plants, and stunning orchids. As you move through several different rooms, each representing a different climate, there are myriad opportunities to slip a ring on the finger of your beloved. If you’re looking for more expansive views and in a nontraditional setting, then may we recommend the Volunteer Park Water Tower? Built in 1906 as a water reservoir, this now-empty tower stands as a beacon in the middle of the park. Three flights of stairs and thousands of bricks bring you to the top where 180-degree views of Capitol Hill greet you from grated lookout windows. The views are so worth the climb, though you may want to allow your dear one to catch her breath before you bend your knee. (Parking is free at the park, and climbing the water tower is also without fee. There is, however, a small fee for entry into the conservatory.)
  4. Seattle Civic Rose Garden, Woodland Park Zoo. Grass pathways meander through 2-1/2 acres of rose gardens. More than 150 varieties of roses, including bush roses, hybrid teas, tree roses (a la the Queen of Hearts), climbing roses, and miniature roses fill out the spaces of the formal structure of the garden. The park is located near the south entrance to Woodland Park Zoo, and offers not only many flower-filled nooks to set the stage, but also a beautiful gazebo and fountain, either of which would make a lovely backdrop for your important moment. (Entrance to the garden is free; however, when the zoo is open there is a fee for parking.)
  5. Pike’s Place Market. In the bustling atmosphere of downtown Seattle is found the world-famous Pike’s Place Market. Seattle’s original farmers market offers a banquet of entrancing sites intermixed with Seattle’s urban energy. During peak hours, you can watch the fish mongers throw fish and enjoy the visual delight of row upon row of gorgeous fresh-cut flowers. Indeed, might we suggest buying your lady a bouquet of flowers and slipping the ring box in her hand at the same time? You can also take the stairs to the lower levels and browse the more than 200 unique owner-operated shops. Finding a sweet spot to eat after she says yes will be no problem. With over 80 restaurants, including bakeries, cafes, casual dining, and many ethnic choices, you and your sweetheart can seal the deal over a delectable meal. If you’d prefer a backdrop of the Puget Sound, simply stroll to the waterfront park nearby, or take the elevator down to the lower level and walk out onto Seattle’s Waterfront. Stretching from Pioneer Square to Shilshole Marina, the waterfront offers many boardwalks, parks, and even a sculpture park. Truly, your options here for romance are too numerous to name. (The market is open daily from 7am to 4pm. Entry is free, though you will have to pay for parking.)

How to Maximize Your Dollar-to-Carat Ratio When Shopping for an Engagement Ring

EGL Mine Cut Diamond Buttercup Engagement Ring

While the 4Cs (Cut, Carat, Clarity, and Color) are among the most important points to consider when choosing a diamond engagement ring, when push comes to shove your budget is at the top of your list. There are many ways you can maximize your dollar-to-carat ratio. Here we offer a number of different ways to make your diamond appear larger than its actual carat size.

One is to choose diamonds of specific cuts which enhance the sparkle and shine of a smaller diamond. Experts agree that fancy cuts, such as the marquise, oval, or pear cuts, appear larger than round brilliants of the same carat weight. Since diamonds cut in these shapes reflect almost as much light as round brilliants, they appear nearly as sparkly as a larger round brilliant.

To further enhance the sparkle and shine of a smaller diamond, choose a four-prong cathedral-style setting, which lifts the diamond above the band and allows light to enter from nearly every angle, as opposed to a bezel-type setting which sinks the stone into the band, hiding all the but the top from reflective light.

Another approach is to choose a halo setting, where a more diminutive diamond is surrounded by a ring of even smaller round brilliants. Even though these diamonds may be relatively small, with so many of them clustered together they’re sure to emit a sparkle that will turn any head.

If you’d prefer vintage rings, you can choose a beautiful illusion-type setting. With an illusion setting, a demure diamond is surrounded by a series of architectural facets carved directly into the metal surrounding the stone. These metal plates capture the light reflected from the diamond and throw it around some more, giving the illusion of greater sparkle.

One more way to increase a small diamond’s visual impact is to choose a band with pavé or accent stones on the shoulders. As with the halo setting, the extra bling is certain to emit more sparkle, making your smaller diamond appear larger to the naked eye.

When choosing a smaller diamond, you often increase the potential to acquire a diamond of higher Cut, Clarity, and Color. A diamond of higher quality in these areas will outshine a lower-quality diamond of larger size, sometimes without special settings. However, by going the extra mile with one of these options for enhancing a smaller stone, your sweetheart is sure to be dazzled and you’ll be able to afford to splurge on your proposal!