Engagement Ring of the Week: A History of Love


Inspired by the season and our knee weakeningly dreamy Engagement Ring of the Week, we decided to take a historical journey through the evolving traditions of courtship and gift giving. With Hallmark Valentines reaching a staggering 144 million sent annually, we hope this look back will inspire you to forgo mass produced items in favor of reclaiming “new again” romantic traditions from the ancient, medieval and Victorian eras. 


In ancient times it was customary for a couple to drink a wicked brew called metheglin, which was made from honey, as the moon passed through all of its phases. This practice is actually the origin of both the word and tradition of “honeymoon”. If you’re feeling ambitious, you, too, can raise a glass of homemade metheglin with your loved one. Or better yet, skip right over the homebrewing process and go straight to the romantic cocktails with a mixology course at Astor Center.

Reacting against the institution of arranged marriages, the medieval era spawned many of the courtly traditions still practiced today. It was this period that ushered in the importance of romantic love in relationships and gave rise to serenades of some of the most exquisite (though perhaps longwinded) poetry in history. Skip your personal rendition of Sir Gawain & the Green Knight and opt instead for a brief but heartfelt love letter.


Of course, if the muse doesn’t move you, you can go straight for the grand gesture and get down on one knee in true Arthurian fashion (actions do speak louder then words, after all). Although Victorian, our featured engagement ring of the week is a piece certainly befitting a damsel and her knight in shining armor. The ring’s buttercup setting and whorls of gold surrounding the old European cut diamond have all the romance of a heraldic verse in one precious little package.


In the 16th Century in Wales, shy young men unwilling to show their emotions would instead convey their feelings through intricately carved wooden lovespoons, which were given to the objects of their affection as a courting gift, not unlike flowers, but with more staying power. Like the makers of fine jewelry, lovespoon craftsmen have an immeasurable skill and, astonishingly, even the most elaborate lovespoons are carved from one piece of wood. Each spoon is laden with symbols to convey the craftsmen’s emotions like hearts to represent love, bells for wedding anniversaries, and diamonds for good fortune. Today you can give your beloved a modernized lovespoon, a high design porcelain teaspoon set (for one like me whose first TRUE love is caffeine), or a fine piece of jewelry with a motif often found in lovespoons – the knot, or lock, representing everlasting togetherness. (Hint: February’s boutique is overflowing with even more great gift ideas.)


If your romance is new and you perhaps feel the need to be more formal, why not adopt a Victorian tradition and propose to escort your darling on an enchanting rendezvous via personalized stationery? Alternatively, you can send the object of your affection a pair of gloves and hope they wear them to church, but if the stars align you might just be seeing them Sunday morning in a slightly more sinful capacity.


Whatever you choose, a gift given with love will always be cherished, so happy hunting! And don’t forget, our February boutique has a handpicked selection of divine treasures, guaranteed for delivery by February 14th if ordered no later then 2pm February 13th with express shipping. Please feel free to email info@doyledoyle.com should you need assistance.

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