The ring-giving custom hit the dirt for several hundred years before being popularized again in the 12th century, when then-Pope Innocent III laid down new rulings about weddings. He declared that all weddings have to take place in a church, and that the bride must receive a ring. There was also a new waiting period between engagement and marriage, which then led to European aristocrats following suit, giving engagement rings to their fiancées as they counted down to their wedding day.
The diamond engagement ring we know from local jewelry stores in Houston today, however, took some time before materializing. The first-known ring was commissioned by Archduke Maximilian of Austria back in 1477, as a gift for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy. Very little is known about the ring itself, though the reasons why it was picked were pretty apparent. Back then, diamonds were thought to possess magical powers relative to love, purity, and fidelity—which are still attributed to the gems today.