We’re also your source for new and estate jewelry, which is especially important around this time of year. That’s because Valentine’s Day is approaching, one of the biggest jewelry buying holidays on the calendar
Americans spend $18 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day, and nearly $5 billion of that spending is on jewelry, according to the International Business Times.
A few million people will get engaged this Feb. 14, if statistics from past years (4 million in 2012, 6 million in 2013) are any indication.
So today on the blog, as we remind readers of Valentine’s approach, we’re going to take a look at the history of the holiday, jewelry, engagements, and the way they all intersect.
The first engagement rings
The first signs of jewelry were discovered in South Africa, and date back 75,000 years. That’s older than the invention of pottery and agriculture.
People have been using rings as a symbol of engagement for centuries, but the first recorded instance of someone giving a diamond engagement ring came in 1477. That was the year Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy using a ring set with diamonds in the shape of an “M.” Still, it would take a few more centuries before diamond engagement rings became the standard.
In the 1700s, American Puritans eschewed engagement rings as frivolous, and gave their beloved more useful thimbles instead. (Many of these women would slice the thimbles’ tops off and wear them as rings.)
Diamonds were discovered in South Africa in 1867. By the 1880s, the DeBeer’s Mining Company will control 90 percent of the global diamond supply.
By the 1890s, affordable wedding rings and diamond engagement rings start to appear in Sears & Roebuck and other mail order catalogues.
Valentine’s Day and St. Valentine
Valentine’s Day gets its name from a legendary Catholic saint, although the church recognizes at least three different martyred Saint Valentines. (There are a dozen St. Valentines overall, plus one pope. It was a common name between the second and eight centuries.)
One story says Valentine was a priest in third century Rome. When Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men (because single men apparently made better soldiers), Valentine ignored the law and continue to perform marriages. The emperor learned about this and ordered Valentine’s execution.
Another story says Valentine helped Christians escape torture inside Roman prisons, and was himself killed for his troubles. According to one legend, he fell in love with a young woman — possibly the daughter of one of his jailers — during his captivity and sent her a letter signed “From your Valentine” before his death.
Some historians believe the early Christian church placed Valentine’s feast day in mid-February to coincide with his death, while others contend it was an effort to Christianize an existing Roman holiday that fell at the same time of year.
But despite the romantic trappings of Valentine’s story – defying an emperor in order to marry people, the jailhouse romance – it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that Valentine’s Day was associated with love. The first written Valentine was sent in 1415, from Charles, Duke of Orleans – a prisoner in the Tower of London – to his wife.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, France and the United Kingdom. Americans likely began exchanging valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, “Mother of the Valentine” Esther Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines, made from lace, ribbon and colorful pictures.
Men spent nearly twice what women do on Valentine’s Day gifts — $190 to $96 – although women buy far more valentines, roughly 86 percent of the 1 billion sent each year.
Turn to Doylestown Gold Exchange this Valentine’s Day
As we write this, Valentine’s Day is about a month away. Don’t shop at the last minute when you buy Bucks County jewelry for your beloved. Visit Doylestown Gold Exchange to speak to one our experts about our new and estate jewelry Doylestown PA. We’ll help you find something the love of your life will love.