The Laings Journal
The History of Wedding Rings
Today wedding rings are the most romantic piece of jewellery that you'll wear. They are filled with emotional significance, but this has actually been the case for much longer than you may think!
The first wedding rings can be traced back to the Ancient Egyptians when they exchanged rings made from braided reeds and hemp. They placed these rings on the fourth finger of the left-hand as they believed that there was a ‘vein of love’ that ran from this finger directly to your heart. Similar to today it was a ‘ring of love’ and was worn to symbolise commitment to each other. The Egyptians also saw the circle as a powerful symbol and the endless circle of a wedding ring is said to show a promise of forever.
The Ancient Greeks and Romans also wore rings and the early ones were made from leather, bone or ivory. It was in this time that the tradition of metal bands began and iron wedding rings started being worn. For those wealthy enough we also saw the beginning of gold and silver bands being used to mark a marriage.
It wasn’t long before wedding rings began to be personalized. During the Byzantine Empire rings were engraved with figures of the couple. In the 15th century ‘Posie rings’ became popular. A short verse could be inscribed on the ring and as time went on the messages became more personal, with engravings being added to the inside of the ring to keep the message private and close to the wearer. Many couples still choose to add an engraving to their rings for a truly romantic touch.
As well as becoming more personal wedding rings also became more elaborate as the years went on. In the Medieval Times wedding rings would show two hands clasped in love. However, Gimmel rings in the 15th- 17th century are perhaps the most intricate to date. They were made up of 2-3 interlocking bands that when worn together would create a whole ring. With the first designs the bride and groom would each wear a band on the lead up to the day, then at the wedding they would be worn as one ring by the bride to signify the union.
Now there are no rules when it comes to wedding rings! Couples still tend to wear them on the fourth finger of their left-hand, taking inspiration from the Egyptian vein of love and they are also still a never-ending circle with no beginning or end. However, now couples have more freedom to choose styles to suit them. As well as traditional plain bands you can also opt for diamond-set bands to add some sparkle. You can use coloured gems for a touch of personality or if you’re looking for a really individual look then you could go for a completely bespoke design!
Thank you for taking the time to read about the history of wedding bands. Follow our latest news on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, or if you have any questions please pop us an email at [email protected].