The wedding band, a ubiquitous universal symbol of marriage in the world today, symbolizing the bond of two people as a couple. A circle with no beginning or end, a symbol of love for infinity. Said to be one of the oldest customs over many cultures.
Where did it all begin?
Approximately 5000 years ago, the Ancient Egyptians are the earliest examples of using rings to express their love for infinity. Made of woven reeds, hemp, bone or ivory and formed into a circle, worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. Believing the vena amoris (vein of love) ran directly from the heart to the top of this finger, the ideal place to wear a ring symbolizing love and commitment.
The Romans were the first to link rings to marriage; for the bride as an indication the groom trusted her with his valuable property. The majority of the rings were forged out of iron, (gold and silver reserved for the wealthy) leading to the tradition of metal wedding rings. Unlike the Egyptians who viewed it as a symbol of love, this was believed to be more of a symbol of possession.
It is around the 3rd century that precious metals were used. Bands were plain, gradually elements of decoration were used. Such as the engraving of a word or name, leading to more symbolic images. The distinctive ring that is still worn today is the Irish Claddagh ring, two hand holding a heart with a crown. Used as engagement and wedding rings symbolizing friendship, love, oaths and loyalty.
The Catholic Church introduced the ring into the ceremony in the Middle Ages. Initially a Christian ceremony involved placing the ring on the bride’s index, middle and fourth fingers to represent the Holy Trinity.
Which hand do you wear one on?
Throughout history styles of the rings and the fingers worn on have changed, worn on every finger and even the thumb.
In several countries with Catholic dominancy, the people wear their wedding ring on their right hand. Whether it originated from the fact that when somebody is married to God, the ring is worn on the right hand or from the Roman custom, where the Latin word for left translates to sinister. We can only guess.
Whereas many countries and cultures do it differently, today most people wear it on the left hand, a romantic notion that it is closer to your heart.
Did women always wear wedding rings?
Traditionally only worn by women. It was only during the World War II period that men started to wear a wedding ring. Carrying their love with them, as they were not sure that they would see their wives again. A tradition that has remained and today the majority of men wear wedding bands.
Which precious metals are wedding bands made from?
White /yellow gold wedding bands are considered the more traditional rings. Popular for their simple and practical style.
Platinum has become a somewhat more popular metal for wedding rings. A valuable and highly regarded choice, with the added benefit of being naturally hypoallergenic.
Rose gold is another popular choice. Flattering to most skin tones, a seemingly youthful blushing gold that intensifies with age. Said to represent love, whereas white gold representing friendship and yellow gold fidelity,
* Did you know that French and Russian wedding rings consist of three multi-coloured, interwoven bands.
The endurance of these metals symbolizes the permanence of marriage, a reminder of your love for one another forever.