As we all know, the wedding band is the instantly recognizable symbol of the union between husband and wife. Even though we see if often, this tradition has a very mystical and wandering history. It roots have been found in the ancient Egyptians, who were the first to fashion these coveted items out of braided reeds and papyrus that grew on the banks of the river Nile.
Like for may other ancient cultures, as well as the Egyptians, the ring is circle and this was the symbol of eternity. The hole in the center of the ring is not just space; it signifies the gateway, or door; leading to things and events both known and unknown. This makes the ring the perfect gift to be associated with eternal love.
The Egyptians wore it like we do today, on the third finger of the left hand, because of a belief that the vein of that finger directly traveled from the heart. This legend was later taken up by the Greeks, when they conquered Egypt, and from them passed onto the Romans, who called this the ‘vena amoris’, which is Latin for ‘the vein of love’.
These early rings usually lasted a short time due to the nature of the materials. They have also found rings fashioned with other stronger materials such a leather, bone or ivory, but it wasn’t until metallurgy came along that rings really became eternal.
In early Rome it was iron that was adopted as the metal of choice to symbolize the strength of love that a man felt for his bride. In Medieval Europe we see the addition of gemstones, while during the Italian Renaissance silver was the metal of choice. This did not last very long as gold began to be in fashion again leaving silver behind to be used for the engagement rings that were later replaced, at the wedding, with duplicate gold bands.
There is a lot of folklore attached to wedding rings. The Irish say its bad luck if its not made of gold, while other world superstitions include the absolutely essential point of making sure the ring is a perfect fit, since if its not the marriage won’t be successful.
Today things are far less superstitious. They are an important part of the wedding ceremony, and because of that wedding bands are chosen very carefully. Most contemporary couples select matching rings, yet it is very modern for the bride to have hers adorned with other gemstones as well. Custom designed bands are the most popular today, and while diamonds have long been a part of the bride’s they are also showing up on the grooms’ band as well.
I hope all this information is useful to you when choosing, or at least dreaming of your wedding bands. After all this is the season of weddings, and dreaming is free.