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A solitaire diamond is probably best known as an engagement ring symbolizing romance, fidelity, and the strength of a bond between two people preparing to wed. You may be surprised to learn that other jewelry using a single gemstone can be classified as solitaire, too, but not to be confused with the popular card game!
The Story Behind Solitaire Diamond
More than five centuries ago, around 1477, 18-year-old Maximilian I of Austria (later the 31st Holy Roman Emperor) was the first to use a diamond engagement ring. His betrothed was Mary De Bourgogne, sole heiress to large land holdings in Burgundy. Although some may see this as just another arranged marriage between powerful families, the story goes that Mary fell madly in love with Max through their romantic letters.
Legend has it that Max, who has been called the last true knight, created the ring from gold gifted to him by his adoring subjects as he traveled to meet Mary. Tragically, she fell from a horse and died only five years later at the age of 25, but the tradition was firmly set.
Modern Solitaire Jewelry
Diamond sizes and cuts vary widely in size and price. A common recommendation is to spend at least two months’ salary on an engagement ring, but in 2020 the median amount spent was $1,900, equivalent to about two weeks’ pay on average.
The round brilliant diamond cut is the most popular for a solitaire setting, but there are other choices such as princess and pear-shaped. A mount is chosen to hold the diamond securely based on the cut, with prong, bezel, and tension mounts among the most popular.
The world-famous Tiffany & Co. jewelers set the modern standard for the solitaire diamond engagement ring around 1886. Still, a solitaire diamond can refer to any type of jewelry with a single diamond in the setting. Diamond solitaire can refer to necklaces, earrings, and even men’s jewelry. It’s frequently used to mark significant occasions such as anniversaries, quinceaneras, and graduations.
Solitaire Diamond Card Game
Besides the gemstone setting, the only other meaning for solitaire is the popular card game. You can learn more about it here. Also referred to as a “patience game,” solitaire has hundreds of variations in game-play style and rules. One lesser-known solitaire game is called diamond solitaire. It is a variation of clock solitaire but dealt into a diamond shape instead of a circle and with similar rules as Kooh-i-Noor. It requires two decks of cards, allows unlimited re-deals, and is a long game with a very low chance of winning.
To set up the game, place twelve piles of seven cards in a diamond pattern, all face down, leaving a space in the center to collect the foundation set. The remaining cards make up the stockpile, all set face down except the top card. Play proceeds by building up the center pile using any visible card from ace to king regardless of suit. If there are no visible cards you can use, move the stockpile card to a waste pile and reveal the next stock card. Once the stockpile is exhausted, the waste pile becomes the new stockpile. You win the game by gathering all eight sequences of thirteen cards on the center pile.
Using the diamond solitaire ring to signal fidelity as part of a marriage proposal is a well-established tradition begun centuries ago. Other single-setting jewelry, such as necklaces and earrings, can also be called diamond solitaire. The only other common meaning of diamond solitaire is a version of the popular card game that is known for its length and difficulty.