The Complete History of Wedding Rings and Its Importance!

Marianne Marianne 11 May 2016 755

Have you ever wondered about the history of wedding rings and the symbolism that comes with it? For example, why is it worn on the fourth finger of the left hand? Why are they mostly made of gold? Well, if you have, you will get your answers today.

Wedding Ring History Through Different Cultures

wedding ring history
Image via equalityweddings

No one is certain when this tradition began, but one thing is sure, nowadays, billions of dollars are spent on this symbol of love every year. And since we are talking about wedding traditions, check out how to choose the proper wedding jewelry nailing the traditions. When it comes to the wedding ring history and the symbolism that comes with it, here is what we have discovered.

ancient Egypt wedding rings
Image via madaboutjewellery

Some theories say that the first wedding ring was made and used some 4900 years ago in the cradle of modern society, ancient Egypt. The first rings were made of twisted cattail, bulrush, and sedges. Like today, the ring represented eternity; it had no beginning nor the end; thus, it was the best symbol to show eternal love between a man and a woman. But, the circle wasn’t the only symbol of the ring. The hole in the ring had its meaning as well. It represented a gateway to a new life.

Since the plants used for the making of the ring were not durable, they were soon replaced with bone, leather, or ivory. Just like today, the pricier the ring was, the more love you were showing when giving a ring.

roman wedding ring
Image via Pinterest

This tradition was adopted by the Romans as well. As a tradition of giving a ring to a woman as a symbol of love. They used the rings for showing ownership over her. They made their rings out of iron, and these rings were known as “Annulus Pronubus,” the symbol of permanence and strength. The Romans were also the first who started engraving their rings.

wedding ring history - early christian wedding rings
Image via Pinterest

The first official wedding rings appeared with the Christians somewhere around 860 A.C., and they were presented during the wedding ceremony, just like today. In the beginning, the Christian wedding rings were engraved with symbols like two holding hands, lyres, and doves. But, the church characterized those engravings as unholy, and in the 13th century, they started making much-simplified versions without engravings.

History of Wedding Rings – The Meaning of the Ring Finger

ring on the left ring finger
Image via danasokb

Throughout the history of wedding rings, the ring has been worn on different fingers. In some instances, people wore these on the thumb. And some on both the right and left hands. The fourth finger of the left hand started to be used by the Romans because they believed that there was a vein in that finger that came straight from the heart. This vein was called “Vena Amori.” Even though scientist later proved that such a thread didn’t exist, people still stuck with the tradition since it is a very romantic one.

On the other hand, the Christian explanation of the ring finger is more reasonable. The first Christian marriages had a wedding ceremony which included wearing the ring on the third finger, and then while the priest recited the holy verse, the ring would go from the thumb to the fourth finger at the end, as a symbol of a sealed marriage.

The most reasonable theory comes from a more modern era, and it is believed that the wedding ring is worn on the left hand because most of the people are right-handed, and wearing the ring on that hand would cause more injuries. As far as why it is put on the fourth finger, the fact is that this finger, after the pinkie, is the least used one. Again, for security reasons.  But, if the pinkie on the left hand is the least used finger, then why isn’t the wedding ring worn on that one? Well, since this is the smallest of all digits, it would mean that the wedding ring would have to be much smaller, leaving less space for engravings. Practical thinking, isn’t it?

More Interesting Facts

Around 17 tons of gold are used every year for making wedding rings in the U.S. alone!

The earliest age that a girl received her engagement was at the age of two, and the girl that got this ring was Henry the VIII’s daughter, Princess Mary.

The first-ever diamond engagement ring was given by the German King Maximilian the I when he proposed to Mary of Burgundy. The proposal happened in 1477. And since then, men all over the world have the German King to blame for that.

The tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the left ring finger is not followed everywhere in the world. For example, in Austria, Ukraine, Russia, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, and Germany, the wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger of the right hand. And in the Jewish tradition, the wedding ring is not even worn on the fourth finger, but the index finger.