While looking through endless pages of gorgeous diamond engagement rings, have you ever stopped to wonder about their history? Princess and Marquise cut diamonds haven't always been the fashion; throughout history, dozens of distinct ring styles have emerged, many of which still have their own small following today. Here are four examples of unique historical ring styles suitable for engagement or wedding rings. One or two of these styles are even gemless, making them perfect for a no-frills couple or for a male engagement ring.

1. The Signet Ring

An example of a ring with a useful occupation in life, the signet served as a stamp, similar to the concept of today's signature, to authenticate and verify documents. The portion of the ring that bore the seal was usually made of either gold or a large gem. Owners of these rings were generally wealthy and important officials or businessmen, each of whom designed a unique seal in order to provide relative security against fraud. Today such rings often bear a family's coat of arms; but they're a great option for an engagement ring too, especially since some contain large, colorful gems.

2. The Cigar Band Ring

Developed in America at a time when frugality was all-important, cigar band rings are flat, wide, and generally devoid of gems. Their greatest beauty lies in the often intricate engravings surrounding the entire band. Popular designs were often geometric and angular, traits which suit the cigar band well because it's the same width all the way around, allowing for complex repeating patterns. It is said that this style was inspired by paper cigar bands, but it's possible they were simply named after a resemblance to the paper bands.

3. The Belcher Setting

The Belcher Setting, another American design, is a flush-set style in which prongs are fashioned directly from the material of the shank. This forms a recessed area in which the gem can sit. The style is named for Thomas Belcher and is known for its low profile, elegance, and comfort.

4. The Puzzle Ring

Originating in Asia thousands of years ago, this ring had a surge of popularity around the 1960s and 70s, and it may well come back into style in the near future. Puzzle rings are made up of multiple small components (from two to seventeen or more), which interlock in a very specific way to create the ring. The ring can only be worn when the puzzle is complete. The legend of its origin claims that the puzzle ring began its existence as a wedding ring, and it has served as an engagement or wedding ring to many happy couples throughout history.

Now that you've taken a break to learn about some old-fashioned and less wildly popular styles, you can go back to scrolling through pictures of diamond rings and look at them with a new perspective. On the other hand, maybe one of these styles really captured your heart but you don't want to go looking through dozens of antique stores to find it. Try requesting a custom ring by professionals like Rinehart Brothers Jewelers based on one of these tried-and-true styles!