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Why do we buy engagement rings?

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By now you may have caught whiffs of the historic marketing strategy that turned a simple carbon stone—a diamond—into an eternal and essential symbol of ever-lasting love. Is this familiar? No? Maybe you should sit down. This is the real history of the engagement ring. 

In the spirit of full disclosure, I've accepted such a bauble myself and bought into the romance and tradition of the thing hook, line and sinker. Although I love my ring, the truth is that engagements were not always the romantic and sparkly occasions that they are today. There's much more to the history of diamond engagement rings, and in fact, the diamond industry is considered one of the most powerful monopolies in modern history.