Ever wonder where the tradition of exchanging rings on your wedding day comes from? Read on to find out.
Getting married is one of those huge events in life that we all look forward to… or hope that it will happen for us. The ceremony of marriage is so heavily enshrouded with tradition that it is difficult to discern which parts of the ceremony have come from which cultures, which religions, or which period. One of the traditions long associated with weddings is the giving of wedding bands. Where did this tradition come from and why do we maintain it to this day?
As Good As Gold
Have you ever heard the term “as good as gold?” Did you know that this term is associated with giving wedding rings when you get married? In the past, wedding ring gifting went one way, not two ways. A man would give the gift of an extravagant ring because he was about to enter a contract with her family that stated he would now take care of her, instead of her father. The more expensive the ring, the better the trust the family could have in him. His word was as good as the gold’s worth. A fancier ring meant a handsome income and a daughter who would want for nothing. It’s no wonder that the tradition has persisted given the superstitions that persist about weddings.
The History of Wedding Rings
Getting matching wedding rings is an even more ancient occurrence. The practice started with the Ancient Egyptians, who would gift each other rings when they wed. The ring giving among Egyptians stemmed from the belief that the vein on the fourth finger of the left hand was the vein which connected to the heart. They called this vein the Vena Amoris, or ‘vein of love’.
When the Romans saw this practice, they thought it was a romantic notion and they brought it home to Italy. They would make and wear rings out of leather, bone, or other on-hand materials. The only people who could afford precious metal rings were the incredibly wealthy. This explains why we don’t find thousands of ancient rings lying around in the dirt.
By the time the Byzantine Empire was flourishing, ring giving had returned to precious metal. However, this is when you start to see that symbolism of holy matrimony emerge for the first time. Before this, ring giving had nothing to do with religion. The Byzantines associated it with the cross and it stuck down through the ages.
By the Medieval Period, rings had evolved to become part fashion statement. Fede rings were popular in the 1300s as Italian crafters worked their magic in gold. They added gemstones. Over the years, wedding rings came to have an association with diamonds if any form of precious stone.
Why Diamonds in Wedding and Engagement Rings?
Diamonds are the international symbol of love because they are everlasting. They are the toughest stone, with the most sparkle. They are durable and beautiful, and not easy to find. The rarity, beauty, and longevity of the diamond is why you find it in wedding and engagement rings.