WHY DO WE GIVE RINGS?
Ring giving is steeped in history and symbolism. In most cultures, it is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, which is now commonly referred to as the ring finger.
Egyptian culture saw couples exchanging rings made out of braided reeds or sedge grass. These were worn on the left-hand ring finger, due to its proximity of a vein that runs directly to the heart, later named Vena amoris.
In 2nd century B.C., ancient Romans are believed to have started the tradition of betrothal rings in lieu of giving the bride money or a valuable object. Its symbolism wasn’t so much about love as it was ownership. According to Pliny the Elder, the groom first gave the bride a gold ring to wear during the betrothal ceremony and at special events, then an iron ring to wear at home, signifying her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her. Not exactly romantic but many ancient marriages were more about protecting wealth, land ownership and continuation of the family name than romantic love.
Couples spend a great deal of their budget on this token of love and affection, it forms a lasting and tangible visualisation of the bond they share and is the first thing on every one’s lips after the initial congratulations, but have you ever wondered where the tradition started?
The word ‘betrothed’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘troweth,’ which means truth. In medieval England, a betrothed couple shared a ‘truth’ or ‘pledge’ to marry, and a ring served to show that the woman was promised to another. Hence a promise ring was given.
In those days weddings were officiated by the local clergy. Pope Innocent III instituted a mandatory waiting period between betrothal and marriage in the middle ages and introduced the reading of the Banns or proclamation, where details of the couple are publicly announced in the churches by the priests, so that if legitimate impediments exist, they may be made known.
What we think of now as a symbol of engagement was previously known as Posy rings, in the English 16 century. These metal bands were engraved with romantic poems, while Acrostic rings spelled out a word in gemstones, for example, a ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby and diamond spelling ‘regard’ — were popular in the Georgian and Victorian eras.
Promise rings have made a return, largely thanks to the publicity surrounding famous owners of such rings like the Jonas brothers and Miley Cyrus. Promise rings are typically given as a token of commitment within the confines of a romantic relationship.
PROMISE RING ETIQUETTE
Although it doesn’t carry the same levity of an engagement ring, a promise ring should not be treated lightly. A promise ring suggests a serious commitment to your relationship when marriage may not be appropriate at the time.
In terms of style, anything goes. Common themes include hearts, intertwined designs to commemorate the idea of a couple’s union, Claddagh rings and eternity rings, as well as bands with a mosaic or composite of stones. Promise rings are often viewed as more of a fashion piece with a sense of fun but Engagement rings hold a more sacred nature.
WEDDING BAND SYMBOLOGY
The circle is the symbol of eternity in all cultures without beginning or end. This is one reason it is chosen as a symbol for love and commitment. The hole in the centre of a ring holds its own significance. It is not just a vacant space, but rather a gateway leading to things and events both known and unknown. To give your loved one a ring signifies never-ending and immortal love.
Early rings using materials that were natural didn’t stand the test of time and soon were substituted for those made of leather, bone or ivory. The more expensive the material and time taken in there fashioning, the more love shown to the receiver; the value of the ring also demonstrated the wealth of the giver.
THE ONGOING PURPOSE
A ring is a way to signify a future together. Both the giving and wearing of a wedding ring signifies the commitment you are making to your spouse and to your marriage, and will be a constant reminder of your own dedication and commitment to your relationship. Each time you glance at your ring you are communicating with the one you love even if you are apart.
Your ring is a visual remainder to the world at large that you are part of a hole, taken and worthy of the love you share. engagement, others simply wear the ring as a means of reflecting devotion to one another.