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Wedding Rings of the Past and Present

Updated on October 10, 2013

Wedding Rings of the Past, the Present and the Future

Wedding rings have long been symbols of eternal love. The very shape of the ring denotes a never ending cycle of life. The wearing of wedding rings has long been a beautiful tradition throughout history. Different nations and societies have established the tradition of wearing wedding rings after a couple gets married however, each nation may differ in how they are worn. For couples living in the US, France, United Kingdom, and Sweden, the wedding ring is traditional worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. Wedding rings in Russia, India, Spain, Poland, Bulgaria and Germany are literally worn on the other hand, the right hand.

Wedding Rings of the Past

The wedding bands that are popular symbols of love today were said to have originated in the early civilizations of Egypt. Ancient Egyptians used plant parts that were fashioned into circles to signify everlasting love. They also believed that the left hand’s fourth finger contained a special vein that is directly connected to the heart. This belief led to the designation of the fourth finger of the left hand as the official ring finger.

The Romans also shared the belief of the Egyptians in regards to the use of the ring finger and how it is connected to the heart. However, the Romans have a different symbolism for the wedding bands that they offer. Instead of them being symbols of eternal love, Roman men would use the rings as a symbol of ownership and would put on the rings to their women to claim them.

The Asians meanwhile had a more interesting use for the wedding rings. Asian men also used the rings to symbolize ownership and every man will refrain from engaging in a conversation with a woman who had been already claimed as evidenced by a band on her finger. They too used the ring fingers to hold the rings however; their wedding bands were more complex. Asian men used puzzle rings which had the ability to fall apart when removed and can be put back together again. The unique quality of these puzzle wedding bands are that only the husbands would know how to put them back together. So if the husband is away, his wife or any of his wives (Arab men have been known to have more than one wife depending on his wealth) won’t be able to remove the ring.

The Europeans were considered to be the developer of the engagement ring. Several centuries ago, to be married in Europe mean that the groom should have sizeable holdings large enough to support a family comfortably. If a man wanted to marry a woman, he should already be wealthy or is the likely heir to a fortune. European men started giving what was called then as Poesy rings to their loved ones while they set off to earn a fortune for themselves. These ancestors of engagement rings were offered as a pledge of eternal togetherness and as a promise of marriage as soon as the men make themselves worthy enough for the women to get married to.

As the first European settlers occupy America, hard times followed. During Colonial America, the use of these Poesy rings were prohibited due to their deemed worthlessness. Instead, men offered a more practical symbol to their loved ones, a metal thimble, to show their pledge of marriage. After being married, the women traditionally began removing the top of the thimble to form a makeshift wedding band.

Wedding Rings of the Present

The wedding rings that we see today have improved since they were first used centuries ago. No longer are they made of plants, twines, grasses or hair. Engagement rings of today are composed of stunning gems encased in precious metals while the wedding bands are also of strong metals but may or may not have gems decorating them.

Engagement rings, especially for the western nations, still remain as symbols of a promise of eternal love and are still offered during marriage proposals. However, engagement rings have gone from the simple poesy rings that they were once known to the elegant rings that most or every woman dreams of receiving. They are now more than a thimble or a plain metal band. Today’s rings are embellished with precious gems, such as diamonds, and are made up of different types of metals. The gems and metals used also have their own type of symbolisms added to the rings.

Diamonds, which are the most common stones used for engagement rings, are chosen because they are the hardest natural occurring material found on earth. The high quality and perfect diamonds are also colorless and free from any inclusions. Because of these, diamonds have become symbols of both eternity and purity. When set in a ring, the engagement ring becomes a symbol of pure and eternal love. Wedding rings are also being adorned with diamonds such as the eternity style which features the band covered with multiple diamonds.

In terms of the materials composing the rings, the choice of metals have evolved from using the traditional yellow gold and silver, to the use of white gold, titanium and other metals.


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