2nd century B.C. — Iron — In the second century BC, the Roman bride-to-be was given two rings, a gold one which she wore in public, and one made of iron which she wore at home while attending to household duties. This second ring sometimes sported a key-shaped design that symbolised commitment. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
16th century — Germany, gold, diamond, enamel — This marriage gimmel ring has the central motif of the Italian mani in fede - hands clasped in faith symbol. Rings such as these were popular sentimental jewels that featured hidden messages, only shared between the beloved. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum
18th century — England, gold, diamonds — This gold and diamond ring was presented to Judith Crommelin by Samuel Verplanck at the time of their engagement in 1760. The rose cut diamonds are placed in closed-back settings, a typical fabrication technique used during the eighteenth century. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
19th century — England, gold, silver, sapphire, diamonds — This charming and detailed piece is typical of the Victorian cluster style engagement rings. A moody deep blue sapphire sits at the centre, surrounded by old cut diamonds, set into silver and mounted on a yellow gold shank. Image courtesy of Bentley & Skinner
21st century — England, platinum, diamonds — IThe platinum and diamond engagement ring created by the house for Princess Beatrice of York was a fusion of Victorian and Art Deco sensibilities, reinterpreted for a modern audience.