The Romantic History Behind Engagement and Wedding Rings

Whether they admit it or not, most girls dream about the love of their life getting down on one knee and presenting them with some serious sparkle. This then leads to the big day wherein two new rings enter the picture, one for the husband and one for the wife. The phenomenon of engagement and wedding rings is universally recognised and is now a culturally embedded component of marriage rituals across the globe. But where does it all come from? We delve into the history of engagement and wedding rings to find out!

Why a circle? The circular shape of the ring is thought to be an ancient symbol of everlasting love, an eternal commitment that has no beginning and no end.

Engagement rings

The quintessential engagement ring is unarguably going to feature a diamond. Today the dazzling gem is one of the most sought after stones in the world. So what’s so special about this remarkable mineral? The word diamond is derived from the Ancient Greek word adámas, meaning ‘unbreakable’, making it a well suited symbol of eternal love. It’s also said that Cupid’s arrows were tipped with diamonds. Put two and two together and it’s no wonder that the diamond is the unanimous gemstone of choice for declaring undying love.

The history of the engagement ring dates back to the Middle Ages when marriage ceremonies were sealed with a diamond, the gesture considered reflective of the gemstone’s unbreakable properties. It’s thought to have made its debut appearance in 1475 when Italian lord, Constanzo Sforza presented his beloved Camilla d’Aragona with a diamond ring on their wedding day. The ring is said to have first been used as a symbol of betrothment in 1477, when Archduke Maximilian gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy, his wife-to-be. Today the romantic representation of the diamond engagement ring is more prominent than ever and remains a resounding symbol of love and devotion.

Wedding Rings

Wedding rings date back to ancient Egyptian times when water plants, rushes and reeds were braided together and used to make rings. As the tradition developed the delicate woven rings were replaced with more durable materials such as bone, ivory and leather and eventually metals. As their popularity grew the value of the ring material became intrinsically linked with the level of love and devotion shown to the recipient. It was not until around 860 that traditional gold rings were used in Christian marriage ceremonies.

The tradition of wearing wedding rings on the left hand ring finger is derived from the Roman belief that the finger was home to the ‘vena amoris’ or the ‘vein of love’, thought to be directly connected to the heart. While scientists have rained on the parades of hopeless romantics everywhere and proven the theory false, the romantic tradition has resounded and wedding rings continue to be worn on the fourth finger of the left hand.

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