Wedding ring history
Rings were introduced by the Egyptians in around 2800BC. For him or her ring signified eternity- a circle with no beginning or end.
Exchanging rings became part of the religious wedding ceremony in Europe around 11th century. Some believe their significance goes back to the days of ancient cultures, which used cords, woven from rushes and grass, to bind themselves and their mates as a symbol of unity. Others believed rings evolved from the chains used by Barbarians to capture their brides.
Why is the ring finger so-called?
Traditionally the wedding ring has been worn on the finger of the third finger of the left hand. There are two strong beliefs why!
- The first dates back to the 17th Century when, during the Christian wedding, the priest arrived at the fourth finger, counting from the thumb after touching the three fingers of the left hand 'in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost'. This was known as the Trinitarian formula. The other belief refers to an Egyptian belief that the third finger followed the vena amoris- the 'vein of love'- that runs directly to the heart.
- Through carelessness in cataloguing human anatomy, the ring finger was thought to be the connecting vein to the heart. It evolved from the Greeks and continued to Western Culture. Romans plagiarising Greek Anatomy charts adopted the ring practice without question.
In India, they favour the thumb for the rings and in the Greek Orthodox Church girls wear the rings on the left hand before marriage and the right hand after marriage. Whichever finger is chosen, the important thing is not to drop the ring during the marriage ceremony. It is considered an omen of disaster.
Diamonds are popular stones in an engagement ring because they symbolise everlasting love. The first diamond engagement ring was reportedly given by Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy in 1477.