Some things in life end up getting completely overlooked. They get taken for granted.
Why do we celebrate birthdays with cake? Why do we dream? Why is the sky blue? Does God exist?
Why are wedding rings used for marriage?
Wedding rings are so unbelievably common that most people don’t really tend to think twice about wearing one. But for those who tend to think deeply about things and ask a lot of questions, you may be scratching your head with the question above.
To understand this, we need to look into the history of rings, marriage and love. Wearing rings as a sign of marriage and love go back very far in human history. Let’s take a look.
The First Uses of Wedding Rings
The history of wedding rings goes all the way back to ancient times. The rings were used by Egyptians to represent eternity. This was due to the fact that rings were circular in shape, thus imitating an infinite loop. These days, modern weddings take a lot of things from Christianity, so since this was a time before Christians romaed, marriage during the times of Ancient Egypt was very different from what we have now.
Not only did rings symbolise eternity, the Egyptians also thought that it is akin to the shape of the moon or the sun, (and we all know that the ancient Egyptians worshipped them). A popular ring during the time of ancient Greeks was an “ouroboro” ring. This was a famous symbol that is still known today and features a snake swallowing its own tail, representing the eternal cycle.
Soon after, Greeks and Romans began to take note of the use of rings - and eventually the Romans gave us something similar to why we still use rings to this day. The Romans had a concept known as “vena amoris” which is Laitn for “vein of love”. This was because of the idea that there was a vein on the ring finger of the left hand that connected straight to the heart.
Even to this day many people still keep that concept alive, which is why the certain finger on our hand is known as the “ring finger”.
Onwards to the medieval times, various types of rings were used - still as a means of showing devotion and love for someone. It wasn’t until the 15th century that Archduke Maximillian of Austria gifted his partner a ring that featured a diamond. This is one of the most famous instances of a diamond ring being used.
Later, there was a difference between a wedding ring and an engagement ring. During the medieval times in England, couples only had to offer one another their “present consent”. A lot of the time this just meant that they were to exchange valuable objects, oftentimes a ring. Later on, wedding ceremonies were largely just focused on a man gifting a ring to a woman and having her accept it.
The Engagement Ring
Eventually, the church began to take marriage more seriously and started to set a lot of rules regarding marriage. The best thing to do was to have an official ceremony inside of a church or cathedral, surrounded by each other's family. A priest then made the marriage official under God. A ring was exchanged in order to symbolise devotion. Still to this day, a large majority of couples continue this tradition.
Eventually, people began using two types of rings: Engagement rings and wedding rings. An engagement ring is a ring that is traditionally given by men to women in order to propose marriage to them. If the person getting proposed to accepts, the time between the proposal and the wedding is known as engagement. People also call each other their fiance during this period.
Who Wears Wedding Rings?
For most of history, it was only women that wore rings for marriage or engagement. Still, to this day, women are more often than not going to be the ones to wear both an engagement ring and a wedding. Men will often stick to just wearing only a wedding ring, which is often going to be very plain and simple.
Men wearing rings only really started to happen around WW2. This was because they wanted to wear something that reminded them of their wives back at home when they were fighting during the war. This then continued with the Korean War.
Walking into a jeweller, you’ll find that most rings are for women and are focused on making the engagement ring as glamorous as possible. These days, there is a huge variety of rings available from solitaire rings, halo rings, eternity rings and rings made with lab grown diamonds.
Women Wearing Rings
Marketing for wedding and engagement rings has still almost always focused on females. Although most of us think that it's been forever since women have had diamond engagement rings, it's only since around the 1940s that it became such a popular and common occurrence.
The company De Beers was responsible for pushing the world of diamond rings onto society. Huge marketing campaigns from De Beers promoted women wearing diamond rings, and it was seen as the perfect and most elegant ring that a woman could possibly wear.
This was all during the golden age of Hollywood, when stars like Audrey Hepburn and of course Marilyn Monroe were at their peak. During a lot of Hollywood movies, these actresses were given a lot of this high end jewellery, which not only made them look nice but were great at making society (especially women) more interested in getting diamond rings. It was also some great promotion for the diamond industry.
People have been wearing rings as not only a sign of marriage but also a sign of love, trust, dedication and oneness for thousands of years.
During the ancient times, rings were worn by the Egyptians to represent eternity and were used as a means to symbolise their many gods. The Greeks and Romans then caught on to the idea, which eventually saw the Roman concept of “vena amoris” which literally translates from Latin as “vein of love”. This was based on the idea that there was a vein in the left ring finger that led directly to the heart.
During the Middle Ages, rings got exchanged at a wedding ceremony inside of a church as a religious tradition, and this is still practised to this day. A while after, engagement rings came along as a way to propose a marriage to someone. The period between the proposal and the wedding ceremony is known as being engaged.
Engagement rings are also still worn very much so to this day, with an overwhelming majority of engagement ring wearers being women only. If you were to walk into a modern jewellery shop, you’ll find that most rings are made purely for females in mind - with an endless selection of bands, settings, gemstones and materials used.
There seems to be no slowing down with the tradition of couples wearing rings as a sign of their marriage, and jewellery still remains a gigantic industry.
Our selection of rings includes some of the best engagement rings in Sydney. Varoujan’s jewellers are here to help you choose the perfect ring for you and your partner. Browse our website for more information.