Many men shopping for a wedding ring no doubt yearn for the long-gone past when they hear that the first wedding bands were simply reeds or blades of grass shaped into a circle. That era thousands of years ago was also characterised by no TV, refrigerators, cars or Wi-Fi, so perhaps it is a fair trade.
The circle of the wedding band, with no beginning and no end, is romantically associated with the eternal nature of true love. The space it encloses is taken by some as representative of a gateway to a new life. No one can quite tell when these ideas were first imagined, but the origins of the ring itself are somewhat clearer.
It is widely accepted that the Egyptians are the earliest known people to have indulged in the tradition of exchanging wedding rings by both bride and groom. Prehistoric men, on the other hand, are believed to have bound their intended mates’ ankles with lengths of reeds before placing them on their fingers which was rather a one-way street.
The Egyptians were also the first to ascribe the wedding ring a place on the third or ‘ring’ finger. This was done under the (erroneous) belief that the ‘Vena Amoris’ or ‘Love Vein’ ran from that finger directly to the heart.
The oldest unbroken and continued use of wedding rings by a culture today is seen in Indian Hindu weddings. Interestingly they also have a custom of brides donning a marital toe ring. After the decline of the ancient Egyptian civilization, the wedding ring underwent a roller coaster ride in popularity elsewhere around the world. It was not until the mid-twentieth century when the popularity of wedding rings grew exponentially and it became a part of popular culture across the globe.
The Romans were the first to engrave wedding rings when it became common to construct them from iron whose strength represented longevity and permanence. However, in Roman society, a man placed the ring upon his betrothed’s as a symbol of his ownership of her and not quite with the romantic notions that the ring symbolises today.
The ring became a part of the Christian wedding ceremony in the middle of the ninth century. It quickly became fashionable to have rings made of very intricate design and this bothered the Church which sought to discourage their use. By the 13th century, rings were of sufficient simplicity for the Church to look upon them favourably.
In 1477, the Archduke Maximilian of Hammond decided to do something that would cement his name in history… and have him either celebrated or cursed, depending on whether one was buying the ring or receiving it. Yes, the good Archduke presented the object of his affection the world’s very first diamond engagement ring.
Ironically, it was in the scarcity of war that the wedding band became firmly entrenched in the Western psyche. In the 1940s, thousands of young men got married and shipped out, going off to war thousands of miles away from home and from that special girl with only a thin band of metal around a finger to symbolise their union. To this day, the tradition of rings be a significant part of weddings continues and it is definitely here to stay. Now that you’ve travelled through the past, live in the present, and check out one of our amazing wedding rings here.