Known as "the Belle Epoque," or "beautiful era," Edwardian times were rife with change. They started with the fruit of the Industrial Revolution and ended with World War I. Weddings of that era were lavish affairs. Brides-to-be prepared their trousseau, or wedding-day attire, with great attention to detail. All aspects of the engagement, in fact, were planned elaborately. Nowhere was this elaboration clearer than in the engagement ring.
Beginning in the Edwardian era, the engagement ring started supplanting the "Breach of Promise" law. This law gave women legal recourse in case an engagement got called off, leaving her unmarriageable. The engagement ring served as insurance. Jewelers of the time period used expensive materials to intricate but geometric pieces. Consumers preferred pale pastels and monochromatic white-on-white, so jewelers often used diamonds, pearls and platinum. Designs might be relatively simple, with a central diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds set in platinum. The gem gallery of the Smithsonian features an elaborate Edwardian ring of two diamonds flanking a pearl in a stoplight pattern and surrounded crowded with more diamonds.