You probably assume that a diamond engagement ring has a long, rich, meaningful history when it comes to marriage, right? Well, you assume wrong.

The diamond engagement ring has seemingly been a part of marriage proposals since the dawn of time. Most of us don’t question the tradition, we find the money to buy our partner a diamond, big or small. The question is… why?

Has anyone stopped to ask how the diamond ring became such a big part of an engagement? Is it supposed to ensure happiness or prosperity in the marriage? And while we might question the size, clarity, color, or shape of the diamond we’re purchasing, we don’t question the purchase of the gem itself. We’re groomed to believe, if it’s an engagement ring, it must be a diamond. But, again… why?

Here’s the cold, hard truth for you. There is no deep meaning. We’ve been spending hundreds, thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars on diamond rings because of an ad campaign that started in the 1930s. That’s it. That’s the only reason. We can all thank DeBeers, the same company that coined the phrase ‘a diamond is forever’ for making us diamond-ring-crazy.

Nowadays, diamonds can go either way. They’re still seen as a show of elegance and signify a marriage engagement, but they’re also shrouded in controversy. Blood diamonds and conflict diamonds are a big deal and while the diamond companies aren’t going out of business, they’re taking a bigger hit than ever before.

Knowing the controversy and knowing the tradition was perpetuated by advertising for DeBeers, do you still think men or women should propose with diamond rings?

Read about more of the history in this 2015 Atlantic article.