Have you ever wondered about the history of wedding rings? Who were the first to wear them and why? What did they symbolize? Why are we still wearing wedding rings today? We were as well when we first got into creating custom jewelry. So we looked into it. This is what we found out.
The practice of wearing wedding rings goes back thousands of years. Wedding rings have been a symbol of love and commitment for millennia. As far as we know, the ancient Egyptians were the first to wear wedding rings. The practice started around 4,800 years ago, when wedding rings were made of woven reeds and hemp. Yet, prior to the Ptolemies coming to power, no formal marriage ceremony existed. Typically, marriage contracts were private affairs between the families of the newlyweds.
The Egyptians believed that the circle shape of the ring represented eternity, with no beginning or end. The hole in the center of the ring was also seen as a gateway to the future. The ring was worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, as they believed a vein ran directly from that finger to the heart – the vena amoris. After the Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans continued the tradition, but with different materials.
History Of Wedding Rings – Greeks & Romans
From Egypt, the use of rings is believed to have spread to the Greeks and the Etruscans, and thus to ancient Rome. However, when it came to wedding rings, the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans had their own unique styles. The Greeks preferred simple bands made of iron or copper, while the Romans favored gold or silver with intricate designs. But what did these rings symbolize to these ancient cultures?
For the Greeks, the wedding ring was a symbol of unity and commitment. It was worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, which they believed had a vein directly connected to the heart. The circular shape of the ring represented eternity and the unbreakable bond between the couple. In this, they followed in the Egyptian tradition. However, the Romans, who came a little later had different ideas.
The Romans, on the other hand, saw the wedding ring as a symbol of ownership. It was given by the groom to the bride as a sign of his control over her. However, over time, the meaning of the ring evolved and it became a symbol of love and commitment. Regardless of the cultural differences, the wedding ring has remained a timeless symbol of love and devotion. This history of wedding rings has totally shaped our current views about them.
By the second century BC, the practice of a man giving a ring to the family of the woman at the time of betrothal was common. The rings were usually forged from iron. As a part of the negotiations between the two families, the wedding ring represented both a tangible commitment to the union and the man’s ability to support his bride. Often Roman women had two rings: a gold ring for public outings and an iron ring for wearing at home.
Were Wedding Rings Only For The Rich and Powerful?
Jewelry was very expensive 2000 years ago. Typically, it was only the rich and powerful who could afford it. That usually meant those in the government or religious arenas. However, wedding rings were not only for the rich in ancient Greece and Rome. While it is true that the wealthy could afford more elaborate rings made of gold and precious stones, simpler rings made of iron or bronze were also available to the common people. These rings were often inscribed with personal messages or symbols, making them just as meaningful as the more expensive ones.
This belief in the vena amoris, combined with the practical purpose of the ring as a symbol of commitment and fidelity, made it a popular choice for all social classes. Despite the wealthy may have had more options when it came to wedding rings in ancient Greece and Rome, the tradition was accessible to all. So, whether you’re looking for a simple iron ring or a more elaborate gold one, rest assured that you’re following in the footsteps of centuries of couples who have exchanged rings as a symbol of their love and commitment.
The History Of Wedding Rings Since The Romans
After the Romans, wedding rings became less popular until the 9th century when Pope Nicholas I made them a requirement for Christian weddings. From there, the tradition of exchanging rings during a wedding ceremony spread throughout Europe.
The growing influence of Christianity had a significant impact on the tradition of giving wedding rings. Prior to Christianity, the practice of exchanging rings was largely a pagan tradition. However, as Christianity spread throughout Europe, the Church began to incorporate the exchange of rings into the wedding ceremony as a symbol of the couple’s commitment to each other and to God.
Over time, the giving of wedding rings became an established part of Christian marriage ceremonies. The circular shape of the ring was seen as a symbol of eternity, representing the unending love between the couple and their commitment to God. This symbolism was further reinforced by the use of precious metals and gemstones, which were seen as a reflection of the couple’s love and devotion.
The History Of Wedding Rings – Today
Today, the exchange of wedding rings is a widely accepted, if not expected, tradition. And this is regardless of religious affiliation. While the original meaning behind the tradition may have been rooted in Christian symbolism, the act of exchanging rings has become a universal symbol of love and commitment. Whether you are religious or not, the giving of a wedding ring is a beautiful way to express your love and devotion to your partner.
Wedding rings are an important tradition that should be continued. They serve as a constant reminder of the love and commitment between two people, and can be passed down through generations as a family heirloom. Overall, the history of wedding rings is a testament to the enduring power of love and the importance of tradition.
Looking For A Custom Wedding Ring?
Click HERE to lean more about custom jewelry, to see our portfolio, or contact us about a wedding ring. Why go to the mall or chain stores when you can have your very own wedding ring created just for you? Your personal style and personality can be injected into the most important piece of jewelry you will own. And many times, for not much more or a comparable price to what the retail stores charge. Do you have an idea for a custom wedding ring, but think it is too crazy to be legit? Send your idea over to us and we will see what we can do for you. If it can be cast, we can create it for you.