The history and meaning of wedding bands and the ring finger

When you get married, rings are often exchanged as a symbol of your love and commitment to one another. But why do we wear wedding rings? And why the ‘ring’ finger?

The ‘ring’ finger

The tradition is that a wedding band sits on the fourth finger (in between the pinky and middle finger) on the left hand.

This tradition can be traced back to the ancient times, where Egyptians used to believe that a vein ran from the fourth finger on the left hand directly to the heart. They gave it the name ‘vena amoris’, which is Latin for ‘the vein of love’.

Due to modern science, we know this is not true. Yet we still stick with tradition and use this finger as the ring finger.

Wedding ring origins 

Around 5,000 years ago, Ancient Egypt was the first known culture to exchange rings of love. Back then, these rings were often made from woven reeds or leather. The Egyptians saw the symbol of the circle as a powerful one. It’s a band with no end and no beginning, representing eternal life and love.

However, it is believed that it was the Romans who linked rings to marriage with ‘fede’ rings. These rings showed two hands clasped together and were commonly made with gold or solid stone. As time went on they personalised these rings more and more, often including engravings of the actual couple themselves.

When Christianity became the official religion these engravings of the couple were replaced with Jesus or would have a cross between them.

Engagement rings

Engagement rings are fairly recent compared with wedding rings. The first recorded engagement ring is thought to be in 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria proposed and presented Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring. It was set with flat pieces of diamond in the shape of an ‘M’.

While diamond engagement rings were used they were not that common until, in 1948, De Beers popularised the diamond engagement ring with the launch of ‘A Diamond Is Forever’ marketing campaign.

While diamond engagement rings remain the most popular choice, there are many more options today. More people are opting for more non-traditional stones or even lab grown stones such as Moissanite.

Throughout history and across different cultures, there have been many different traditions. Today traditions are still changing, some people even creating new ones.

Here at TH March we have a long tradition protecting your symbol of love with our insurance. If you have a wedding band, protect it with insurance. Take a look at how we can help here.

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