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Cape Town’s Premier Manufacturing Jeweller

A wedding ring is a modern-day symbol of eternal love and commitment to another person, but did you know that wedding rings have been around for many millennia – if one looks back almost 3000 years ago, one will find the first recorded history of the wedding ring. Many people all over the world are in possession of a wedding ring but the history of this priceless and significant piece of jewellery is widely unknown.

History of the Wedding Ring: Egypt: Bronze finger-ring, engraved bezel: female bust with headdress. Image Source: The British Museum
Egypt: Bronze finger-ring, engraved bezel: female bust with headdress. © The Trustees of the British Museum

What is the origin of the Wedding Ring?

Ancient Egypt was one of the first civilizations recorded to exchange rings as a symbol of love and commitment between two people. Although this first exchange occurred many years ago, the symbolism of the wedding ring remains relevant even in today’s times. The make-up of the ring has however changed drastically over the years. The first wedding rings exchanged in Ancient Egypt were made of hemp or braided reeds. These materials proved to not last long and as such the materials were later changed to leather and ivory to create a more durable piece of jewellery.

History of the Wedding Ring: An example image of a wedding ring made from braided reed
An example image of a wedding ring crafted from braided reed

Ancient Egyptians also used the wedding ring as a symbol of wealth. The type of material used would often represent how wealthy the person giving the ring was, as the more durable the material was, the more expensive it was too. It was also of the belief that the more the person giving the ring spent on creating the ring, the more they loved the person whom they were giving it to.

History of the Wedding Ring Bone finger ring and Mother of Pearl finger ring
© The Trustees of the British Museum
Africa, Egypt: Bone finger ring and Mother of Pearl finger ring
© The Trustees of the British Museum

How did the Wedding Ring evolve?

Ancient Rome was the next civilization to take part in the exchanging of rings between a man and his wife-to-be. These rings were even more durable than the ones exchanged in Ancient Egypt as they were made from iron. The purpose of using iron was for the Ancient Romans to reflect the strength and bond within the marriage through the durable nature of the iron. The use of iron to make up a wedding ring started a trend that is prevalent in today’s times. This trend is the use of precious metals in wedding bands.

History of the Wedding Ring: A complete cast copper-alloy finger ring probably dating to the Post Medieval period. The ring has a 'D' shaped section and is inscribed on the inside: "[...] Mind Me X X". . Image Source: The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A complete cast copper-alloy finger ring probably dating to the Post Medieval period. The ring has a ‘D’ shaped section and is inscribed on the inside: “[…] Mind Me X X”. . Image Source: The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance period, the wedding ring further evolved to consist of two interlocking parts. These rings were made from sterling silver and during the wedding ceremony, the groom would place the ring on the bride’s finger to reunite the set and symbolize a future of unity between the groom and the bride.

During this time, the exchange of wedding rings became more popular all over the world across many different cultures. The Hindu culture in India began using the toe ring, also known as “bicchiya”, to symbolize marriage. These rings would typically be made from silver. A Hindu woman would wear this ring throughout her life and would not remove it as a symbol of being married and committed to another person.

The idea of exchanging a piece of jewellery to symbolize marriage also grew to West Bengal where an iron bangle would be exchanged and worn by the bride.

The history of the wedding ring is rich and fascinating, and while the piece of jewellery was different across these many different cultures and regions, the idea and symbolic meaning remained the same.

History of the Wedding Ring: A medieval silver-gilt finger ring. The bezel is decorated with an incised motif of two joined hands. Image Source: The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A medieval silver-gilt finger ring. The bezel is decorated with an incised motif of two joined hands. Image Source: The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When Did Men Begin to Wear a Wedding Ring?

Initially, many cultures believed that the wedding ring was only to be worn by the bride but during World War II soldiers that were heading off to fight in the war wanted something that they could always have on them which would remind them of their wives back at home eagerly awaiting their return. This resulted in a new tradition being born, the tradition of both women and men wearing a wedding ring.

Why is the Wedding Ring worn on the Left Hand?

Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt were where the tradition was born to wear one’s wedding ring on the fourth finger on the left hand, known today as the ring finger. The belief was that there is a vein that runs directly from a person’s heart to this finger. This vein was more commonly referred to as the Vena Amoris in Latin which translates to the ‘Vein of Love in English’. Therefore, the tradition was born to wear one’s wedding ring on the finger which contained this ‘Vein of Love’ to further symbolize the eternal love that exists within a marriage.

The History of the Wedding Ring 1

Start Your Love Story at Mark Solomon Jewellers

At Mark Solomon Jewellers, our curated diamond and plain wedding ring collection feature a distinctive range of styles that can be customised to suit your desired specifications. Contact our jewellery designers or visit our Sea Point showroom to browse our lovely collections.

Micro-set diamond wedding rings set in blush 18ct rose gold, warm yellow gold, and crisp white gold, each set with 0.51cts of sparkling round brilliant white diamonds.
Micro-set diamond wedding rings set in blush 18ct rose gold, warm yellow gold, and crisp white gold, each set with 0.51cts of sparkling round brilliant white diamonds.

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