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Why chose a diamond engagement ring? It's believed that the diamond holds a stronger and far more binding promise than even a wedding vow. The diamond is the hardest gemstone and most versatile. The value of it has been recognized for centuries.
In Roman times, men were required to barter for their brides and they would offer the engagement as a security for their promise to wed. If the man failed to make good on his betrothal, the ring was the scorned bride's to keep. This protected the woman, especially since diamond engagement rings were quite valuable, the sale of the ring could provide her with financial security.
This is why, even in modern times, if the woman breaks off the engagement she should return the diamond engagement ring to the man who gave it to her, but she does not have to if he is the one to break it off. In medieval times, Italians proposed and used diamond engagement rings because the diamond was associated with the flames of love.