The Origin of Wedding Rings: Who Wore Them First?

The wedding ring symbolizes the union of two people. It reminds the groom and bride of the vows they took on their wedding day. Unlike flowers and dresses, wedding rings are meant to last forever. Families even pass them down from one generation to another, making them priceless heirlooms.

Just like how fascinating it is to know the stories of those who came before, it is also fascinating to learn the history of wedding rings. So, where and when did this well-loved tradition originate? How is this tradition changing today?

The first to wear wedding rings

Wedding rings first appeared as far back as 4000 BC. Some archaeological evidence suggests that Egyptian pharaohs are the first to wear rings. Aside from that, they say that ancient Egyptians were the first to exchange wedding rings. But the rings back then are far from what it looks like today. The first rings are likely made from leather, reeds, or bone. Rings symbolize eternity because their shape has no beginning or end. It is also similar to the moon and sun, which Egyptians worship. Moreover, Egyptians believed that the open middle part of a ring signifies a gateway to the unknown.

How wedding rings are worn today and the custom in Egypt of wearing a ring on the left hand’s fourth finger are similar. For this reason, they are likely to be the first to wear wedding rings.

Greek and Roman civilizations

Romans and Greeks followed the fourth-finger rule, thinking that the ring finger has a vein linked directly to the heart. For Romans, it is called the Vena Amoris or Vein of Love. But unlike the ancient Egyptians, Romans made rings from iron for better durability. They called it Annulus Pronubus, which means “bridal ring.”

Engraving two clasped hands also became famous for Romans. Aside from that, signet rings also became popular, which are the first engagement rings cast in gold. Greeks picked up this custom and used copper and iron to make rings for marriage ceremonies after the Romans conquered them.

During the 2nd century CE, most rings were made of gold. Gold rings became even more luxurious in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE. Today, most wedding rings are made of 14k gold, which is highly durable. For those who are sensitive to metals, 18k gold is ideal. You can learn more about the gold karat differences on this site.

How wedding rings are worn today

About a hundred or more years back, brides were the only ones who wore wedding rings. However, the custom is constantly changing. How wedding rings are worn today is a little different from before. Many countries now wear wedding rings to show their union. Some countries also wear their wedding rings on their right hand instead of their left hand. Meanwhile, countries like Brazil, the Netherlands, and Germany wear their engagement rings on one hand and switch them to the other after marriage.

Final thoughts

That is how wedding rings began. Learning the origin of wedding rings provides an idea of how the ancient civilization viewed the rings of union people wear today.






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