The Ancient History of Wedding Rings

David Castro

Marking an engagement or the huge wedding ceremony working day itself with a ring is component and parcel of numerous cultures now. But you may perhaps be amazed to learn that putting on the ring on the fourth finger of the still left hand is a tradition dating back at minimum a thousand decades.

It is a observe that is assumed to stem from the perception that a vein ran from this finger all the way to the heart — the vena amoris. This plan is frequently attributed to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, but the origins of the ring by itself are obscure.

Read Additional: Individuals and Neanderthals Could Have Shared Jewellery Designs

History of Wedding day Rings

It’s normally reported that wedding day rings (or at minimum those linked to marriage) started out with the ancient Egyptians. Archaeologists have uncovered golden rings that could point out these employs.

Still, prior to the reign of the Ptolemies, there was no official marriage ceremony in ancient Egypt. Marriage contracts had been practiced but the arrangement remained generally in between households.

From Egypt, the use of rings is believed to have spread to the Greeks and the Etruscans, and therefore to ancient Rome. However the ancient Greeks exchanged rings as symbols of adore, not of relationship.

Read through A lot more: Why Are We Addicted to Adore?

When Did Engagement Rings Start off?

Roman ring used as a betrothal or wedding day band all through the 3rd century A.D. (Credit history: Metropolitan Museum of Artwork/Community Domain)

When it will come to the origins of the use of rings for engagements, all roadways lead to Rome — or at least, so it would seem to be. Roman rings bearing clasped hands are normally understood as engagement rings, explains Karen Klaiber Hersch, a professor of Greek and Roman classics at Temple University.

This clasped-fingers symbol is a shared emblem between Greeks and Romans, lending some credence to the point that there was interexchange between these peoples.

In basic, rings have been amazingly crucial to historical cultures, says Klaiber Hersch, also the creator of “The Roman Wedding: Ritual and This means in Antiquity.” They indicated wealth and position, were worn by individuals in certain political roles, and were being imbued with symbolic and spiritual importance.

Roman Engagements

Other evidence underlines the use of rings in Roman engagements: Pliny the Elder, for example, mentioned that in his day “an iron ring is despatched by way of a current to a girl when betrothed, and that, too, with out any stone in it.”  

“There’s plenty of proof to say that rings had been offered as a indicator of a promise,” Klaiber Hersch suggests. The ring would be provided at an occasion recognized as the sponsalia, an casual arrangement to marry, normally between the groom and the father of the bride.

These engagement rings — recognised as annuli pronubi — could have altered above time, from the uncomplicated iron rings explained by Pliny to those people designed of silver and gold. By all-around the third century Advertisement, it was seemingly common observe (at the very least among the elites) to mark engagements with these more worthwhile resources.

Wedding day Rings

Medieval gold rings on display screen at Christiansborg Castle in 2017. (Credit score: Thomas Quine/CC BY 2./Flickr)

While Roman marriage ceremony rings continue being elusive and had been possible not employed, the follow of featuring them to mark engagements may have influenced their use for the duration of wedding day ceremonies by the Christian church. By Medieval situations, they experienced grow to be a image of love and a lasting union.

Putting a ring on someone’s finger with the intent to marry is so steeped in record. Of program, not each part of the custom is historical: The modern, diamond-encrusted engagement band is figured as the outcome of crafty advertising and marketing dating to only the mid-20th century.

Read A lot more: Alternatives to the Diamond Engagement Ring

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