Arts & Culture Fashion

History and Rise of the French-inspired Toi et Moi rings

“The French are glad to die for love,
They delight in fighting duels,
But I prefer a man who lives,
And gives expensive jewels.”

Quote from the song “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Marlin Monroe or Lorelei Lee (to be fair) knew a thing or two about diamonds when she assured in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that they are “a girl’s best friends”. Regardless of its shape – oval, cushion, Asscher, or heart-shaped, diamonds are believed to symbolize commitment and enduring love for couples who are about to tie the knots. While most romantics stick to traditional single gemstone rings to pop the question, the historic French “Toi et Moi” jewel seems to resurge and bring a new value to vows. So, what is their specialty? Allors-y!

Going back to history

Thanks to Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who back in the 15th century commissioned the first diamond engagement ring for his bride-to-be, Mary of Burgundy, diamonds have got into the habit, spreading among European aristocrats and nobles. Much later, in 1947, De Beers pushed the concept to a new dimension with the slogan “A Diamond is Forever”. They somewhat marketed the concept of eternity and popularized diamond rings as a symbol of love. The purer the stone, the deeper is the commitment. Yet, a little earlier to this date, Napoleon Bonaparte gave a precedent to a marvelous idea. He had engraved in 1796 on the stem of the two-stone engagement ring for his future wife Joséphine, “you and me, forever”, and unintentionally gave birth to the “Toi et Moi” (You and Me). Joséphine’s ring was sold in 2013 for around a million dollars in the Osenat auction.

Toi et Moi in Modern Times

After Napoleon, it was John Kennedy, who brought the ring style back to vogue. He gave a Van Cleef & Arpels engagement ring to his future wife, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. The ring consisted of a 2.84-carat emerald, a 2.88-carat diamond, baguette-cut diamonds, and emeralds on the sides. In 1967, Queen Margret of Denmark had received one with two six-carat square-cut colorless diamonds, again made by Van Cleef & Arpels. Coming closer to the 21st century, Sebastian Bear-McClard proposed to Emily Ratajkowski with a 2-carat princess cut diamond and a tilted 3-carat pear-shaped diamond Toi et Moi ring, designed by Alison Lou. That’s when the trend made yet another strong appearance. Ariana Grande’s ring, instead, is an oval-cut diamond featuring a delicate pearl.

It kept low-key publicity until nowadays. These French-inspired rings occasionally make comebacks in the media outlets thanks to celebrities and inspire jewelers to experiment with its design. Toi et Moi might be the new trend among couples due to the meaning it carries. The two stones touching the ends represent union, like a Yin Yang, or in some way referencing the têteàtête Victorian sofas. We can interpret it in multiple ways, but “two souls becoming one” is the definition. A sapphire and diamond, an emerald and diamond, a pearl and a diamond – it is a precious combination that makes a ring more personal and authentic. 

The most recent is Machine Gun Kelly’s proposal to Megan Fox. He published on his Instagram the ring, explaining: “set on two magnetic bands of thorns that draw together as two halves of the same soul forming the obscure heart that is our love”. Sounds romantic: combining birthstones of each other into a single design. Also, rumors have it that it would be hurtful to take off this ring. Whether it is a romantic gesture or a toxic feature – it is not the case. Yet, there is something in Toi et Moi‘s design that makes it charming. Perhaps, the simplicity of the meaning put in a complex and jaw-dropping design.

Contemporary Designs

Even though two stones sound better, engagement rings are open to various designs and interpretations. Below are some examples of the contemporary versions of the Toi et Moi ring.

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