The Complete History of the Wedding Ring and its importance!

by Ana

Have you ever wondered the wedding ring history, 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 have your answers today.

Wedding Ring History Through Different Cultures

wedding ring history

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





wedding ring history - ancient Egypt wedding rings

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There are some theories that say that the first wedding ring was made and used some 4900 years ago, in the cradle of the modern society, the ancient Egypt. The first rings were made of twisted cattail, bulrush and sedges. Like today, the ring represents eternity, it has 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.

But, since the plants used for the making of the ring didn’t last long, they were soon replaced with bone, leather, or ivory. Just like today, the pricier the ring is, the more love you show when you giver the ring, and the better demonstration of your wealth is.

wedding ring history - roman wedding ring

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This tradition was adopted by the Romans as well, but instead of giving the 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 “Anulus 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

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The first official wedding rings appeared with the Christians, somewhere around 860 A.C., and they were presented during the wedding ceremony, 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.

Wedding Ring History – The Meaning of the Ring Finger

wedding ring history- ring on the left ring finger

Image via danasokb

Throughout the wedding ring history, it has been worn on different fingers. At some stage, they were even worn on the thumb, as well as on both right and left hands. The fourth finger of the left hand started to be used by the Romans, because they believed that there is a vein in that finger that comes straight from the heart. This vein was called “Vena Amori”. Even though scientist later proved that such a vein doesn’t exist in the fourth finger, people still stuck with the tradition because it is a 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 on the fourth finger goes, the fact is that this finger, after the pinkie, is the least used finger. 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 finger, it would mean that the wedding ring would have to be much smaller, leaving less space for engravings. Practical thinking, isn’t it?

Interesting Facts About the Wedding Ring History

  • 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 Marry.
  • The first ever diamond engagement ring was given by the German King Maximilian the I, when he proposed Mary of Burgundy. This 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 on the index finger.