Wedding season is upon us, and many couples are preparing to declare their everlasting love, which is generally accompanied by exchanging rings. Have you stopped and wondered where that tradition of the wedding band came from? Just why do we exchange rings?
We’ve put together a little timeline tracing the origins of the wedding ring. By no means does this tell the entire story, but it does provide a quick glimpse of how the history and symbolism of the wedding ring has blossomed through the centuries.
A Tradition Is Born
The exchanging of rings is a tradition that goes back thousands of years. In fact, many historians believe that the ancient Egyptians were the first to get the ball rolling more than 4,000 years ago. The earliest wedding rings were constructed of reeds, sedges, and rushes and were woven into a circle to symbolize never-ending love. Obviously, these rings wouldn’t have lasted very long, and they were generally replaced by sturdier rings of leather, ivory, or even bone. Like we do today, Egyptians wore their wedding rings on the fourth finger of the left hand, as they believed that the vein in that finger led directly to the heart.
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
Eventually, the Romans adopted the tradition, putting their own little spin on it. The wedding ring, which began as a symbol of love, was now a symbol of ownership. Their rings were constructed of iron to express permanency and strength. Historians believe that the Romans were the first to engrave their rings with images of clasped hands, doves, lyres, and even sentiments.
That was the norm until around 860 A.D., when the Church decided that these intricate bands were somewhat impious. After that, wedding rings were decidedly less ornate.
Different Cultural Spins on the Wedding Ring
Middle Eastern Puzzle Rings
Centuries ago, when the Middle East adopted the tradition, a man would give his wife a puzzle ring. These rings were constructed of different bands that, when assembled just so, would create a perfectly round ring. These rings did more than provide an obnoxious brain teaser; they were believed to help ensure that the wife stayed faithful. The bands were complicated, similar to today’s wire puzzles, and it was believed that if it was removed from the finger, the wife would not be able to reassemble it. Sweet, right?
Gimmel rings were all the rage in Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries. Similar to the puzzle rings, these rings were constructed of two different bands that fit together. Rather than ensuring the wife’s fidelity, however, they signified marriage and unity. During the engagement period, the man and woman would each wear part of the ring. After the wedding ceremony, the wife would wear both of the rings together.
Leave it to the Puritans to make things weird. In Colonial America, the Puritans believed that jewelry was unnecessarily flashy and indulgent. Rather than giving his bride a ring, a groom would gift her with a thimble. However, many women weren’t quite on the same page as their pious fellow colonists, and they would often remove the top of the thimble, leaving them with… yep, you guessed it, a wedding band. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention.
Putting Your Own Spin on the Tradition
Looking for a way to put a personal touch on the tradition? At Soundwave Art, we offer a wide selection of engravable wedding bands. Record a sentiment, your wedding date, the date you met, your vows, or anything else that would have meaning for you and your spouse. We’ll transform your recording into a soundwave and engrave it onto your band, giving you a one-of-a-kind wedding ring that will be treasured for a lifetime.