Wedding Rings: The Iconic History and Meaning
Wedding Rings: The Iconic History and Meaning

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Getting married clearly signifies a commitment to your partner – a legally binding agreement with a deep, abiding emotional commitment. Your wedding can be as simple as a trip to the Attorney-General’s office to register and then be married by a state officer or anyone authorised to be a celebrant. You can have a civil marriage or you can marry in a religious ceremony. While you can choose not to exchange rings, the majority of people who are taking the step to formally wed, want and welcome the symbol of rings.

While your fiancé may appreciate the surprise of an engagement ring, you are likely going to want to choose your wedding rings together. The simple gold or platinum (or titanium) bands bond you together. There are many different styles and types of bands, too. A wide band may necessitate a “comfort band.” Even those who choose a narrow profile ring may still want the easy-to-wear “comfort band.” Simon West Fine Jewellery provides custom wedding rings in Melbourne that you and your partner will surely love. Make sure to check their collection.

There is some variance, but in most Western cultures, the wedding band is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand (and yes, that’s why it’s commonly referred to as “the ring finger.”). This predilection is believed to be derived from the Romans, who apparently thought that there was a vein in that left-hand finger that ran directly from the “ring finger” to the heart.” In fact that vein had a name “Vena Amoris” (also known as “Vein of Love”). But before you “ooh and ahh” over how romantic (see what we did there?) the Romans were, you should know that while a ring was considered a love symbol, it was also a sign of ownership. The Roman betrothal ring was called “Anulus Pronubus” and was made of iron (signifying permanence and strength). It’s believed the Romans were the first to engrave their rings, too.

In the intervening years and in different cultures, rings were actually worn on the right hand, too. And some cultures wore their wedding band on their thumbs.

But the exchange of rings signifying a marriage actually goes back even further – some estimate 4800 years ago in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians took Sedges, which are rushes and reeds, and twisted and braided them into ornamental rings. Of course, these rings were often very short-lived and soon rings were being made of leather, bone and ivory – you demonstrated the depth of your love by the value of the material used to make your ring.

As the symbol of eternity, a circle has always represented without a beginning or an end. The gift of a ring, that circle means eternal love. Some cultures saw the hole in the centre of a ring leading into some ethereal other region.

Like most trends, ring styles changed throughout the years. Christians started using bands in their ceremonies in about 860 – very fancy and engraved with lyres, doves, and linked hands – but then the church dubbed this “heathenish” and rings became considerably simply. As the celebrant named the Holy Trinity, he would say Amen and put the ring on the ring finger.

Still others contend that the ring is placed on the most commonly less-used hand.

In Jewish tradition, the wedding ring is placed on the bride’s index finger. In weddings in the following countries, rings are placed on the right hand:

• Russia
• Greece
• Bulgaria
• Poland
• Ukraine
• Austria
• Germany
• Portugal
• Spain
• Norway

There are also other resources available online. You can also read the article “5 Reasons Why Wearing That Wedding Ring is Important!” as it offers some insights about wedding rings.

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