Symbolic of commitment, eternity, devotion and unbreakable love–no matter how you wear your engagement, wedding and eternity rings, it’s the meaning behind the ring that matters most. Rings representing romance between two people dates back to ancient times and have remained a big part of our modern society.
Depending on your beliefs, culture and your interest in the ever–evolving fashion trends, the way you wear these rings can differ. We are going to clear up the confusion and take a deep dive into the traditions behind engagement, wedding and eternity rings and how you can incorporate them to suit you and your lifestyle.
The History & Traditions
The history of engagement rings is much less romantic than how we view it today. Going back to Ancient Rome and Egypt, rings of braided hemp, leather, ivory or bone, or metals like iron and copper were exchanged to signify a contract or a promise to marry someone, a betrothal.
The idea of an ‘engagement to be married’ developed in the Middle Ages, as the church in Europe put in place a waiting period between betrothal and marriage. An engagement ring made from silver or gold, sometimes decorated with coloured gemstones or diamonds, became a romantic symbol of the promise to be wed and the giving of marriage rings, blessed by the church, was now a highly symbolic part of the wedding ceremony.
It’s also a long-held tradition for the engagement ring to be worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was thought in Roman times that the ‘vein of love’ running through that finger connects directly to the heart. But on the other hand (literally!), many Europeans wear their engagement ring on their right hand for the engagement and after the exchange of wedding rings during the wedding ceremony, they transfer the ring to the left hand. This has become the new tradition: a wedding ring is worn first on the finger and the engagement ring is second.
Creating New Traditions
Today an engagement ring continues to be the initial declaration of love and a promise of long and happy life together in marriage. As couples start to create their own customs that better represent their modern lives, they’re changing out the traditional for the unconventional and wearing their engagement rings on whichever finger, of whichever hand, they like.
The History & Traditions
The ancients gifted their betrothed with rings, which, being circular in shape, were full of symbolism for life, as they reflected the shapes of the sun and moon above and of eternity, as they have no beginning or end. Some designs also featured the ouroboros–a serpent devouring its own tail, signifying the unending cycle of life and death.
Over time, as wedding bands evolved from braided hemp and leather or iron, to precious gold and silver with gemstones and diamonds, the precious gems featured came to symbolise different ideals: ruby for passion, sapphire for the heavens and diamond for strength.
Wedding Rings Today
Today, wedding rings continue to be exchanged during the wedding ceremony: the symbolism is unchanged. They can be worn together with the engagement ring, or alone. Often, a wedding ring that’s worn alone has a design that reflects the individuality of the wearer: creatively designed in gold or platinum or set with diamonds or precious gems.
The gift of an eternity ring signifies a special occasion such as the birth of a child or a wedding anniversary, often the first, fifth or tenth milestone. An eternity ring is worn to complete the engagement and wedding ring collection and symbolises (as its name suggests) the eternal love between the couple.
Eternity rings now come in a variety of styles and for many modern couples, an eternity ring need not be traditional and ‘complete the set’, but could be your opportunity to design a ring that suits where you’re at in life now, and of course to wear it in whichever way or on whichever hand or finger you choose.
Express Your Forever Love
Choosing your perfect ring to express your love is important. A new tradition must start somewhere, so be inspired to wear it your own way. Lean on our team of experienced gemmologists, designers, and jewellers to help you make it yours.
See us at our Sydney showroom for a hands-on experience in designing your ideal ring. Call us on (02) 9231 3454 or email us email@example.com.