Beyoncé’s 2008 supposition that if you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it is nothing new. People have been wearing wedding rings for over 3,000 years. The diamonds, jewels, rocks, and ice gems, respectively, that come with engagement rings are an entirely separate history that runs a little shorter; the church-sanctioned ideology behind the practice of wearing engagement rings as a precursor to wedding rings dates back to only the 12th century. Estate jewellery provides much history about rings of the past. Learn more about when women started wearing wedding rings and just how far the humble wedding ring has come from 3,000 years ago to today.
The Beginning Rings
In ancient Egypt, the wedding ring began as a symbol of eternity. The Egyptians believed that it represented the sun and the moon, which they worshipped as their deities. The circles also symbolized the ouroboros, which is a snake eating its tail. This symbol of eternity was very prevalent in ancient Egyptian society. Weddings were a great spectacle, and both women and men wore gold jewellery and rings to celebrate the days and nights of festivities.
The Conquest Rings
As ancient Egypt was conquered, Romans took on many of their traditions. The making and wearing of wedding rings were among many things that the Romans would take from the Egyptians. Further, the Egyptians wore their wedding rings on their left ring finger. They believed that there was a vein there that connected directly to the heart. While this anatomical rendering is less than accurate, the idea was romantic and fanciful enough that the Romans adopted it, and, as you can see, it is still in common practice in modern society.
The Luxury Rings
As rings began to shift toward a more modern society in the Medieval and Renaissance eras, royalty adopted bejewelled wedding ring desires. Rubies, diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds started to grow in popularity as a standard embellishment on wedding rings. Bejewelled bands showed wealth and symbolized providing a lifetime of good fortune from one royal family to another. Many lower-class families would craft wedding rings out of leftover steel from the local blacksmith or tie strings around their ring finger to symbolize fidelity and commitment.
The Combination Rings
Just at the time that luxury rings came into being, so did engagement rings. Around the 12th century, engagement rings became an entirely separate ring that men would give to women to show their intent to marry them. Once they exchanged rings at the ceremony, the wedding ring would fit together with the engagement ring in the style of a Claddagh or a gimmel ring.
The Poesy Rings
As the Renaissance era began to wind down, the Elizabethan era brought in Poesy rings and a new idea that grew in popularity. The concept of poetry rings or engraving is still popular today. Silver jewellery and wedding rings were inscribed with poetry on the outside or inside. Some of the wedding rings were fitted with a chamber that held a lock of the other person’s hair to show an undying commitment to their being. Another ring would be crafted when a spouse died, called a memento mori ring.
The Thimble Rings
Colonial America had less romantic ideas about marriage and courtship than much of Europe. While Europeans were inscribing rings with poetry and cutting off locks of hair to show undying devotion, Puritans were giving their wives thimbles as wedding presents. Only after they sewed all of the clothes, bedding, textiles, and necessary items for the new wedding home were they able to saw off the top of the thimble and wear it as a wedding ring.
Now that you are more informed about the historical journey that the wedding ring took, why not check out some rings available to buy at Colonial. We carry a variety of styles from yellow and white gold and sterling silver rings to custom silver coin rings. To learn more about these pieces and other vintage jewellery options, visit Colonial Acres Coins today.