A wedding ring is a circle with no beginning or end. A symbol of commitment and immortal love.
As a jeweller frequently commissioned to make wedding rings, I am often struck by the significance of this piece of jewellery. When couples choose their wedding rings, whether they have a bespoke piece or one that has already been made, it is a choice which is so much more than just the aesthetics of the ring – it is what it symbolises.
Byzantine Wedding Ring
Historically people have placed considerable emphasis on the symbolism of jewellery. Over the millennia, rings have been symbols of power, respect and often talismans, warding off evil spirits and bringing luck and fortune to the wearer. Over time this mysticism has faded, but still there is perhaps no piece of jewellery more symbolic than a wedding ring. Why do we recognise a band worn on the forth finger of the left hand as a wedding ring, yet if it was worn on any other finger, it would just be a beautiful ring?
Fede Gimmel Wedding Ring
It is probable that the use of rings to symbolise the union between two people many have begun with the ancient Egyptians over 6,000 years ago. They used to braid reeds, hemp and papyrus together into rings which were given to women as a sign of devotion, as they believed that the circle was a symbol of eternity. Similar traditions were seen in ancient Greece, but it was the Romans who embraced this symbolism and made it into a form recognisable today. The ring, made of a precious metal, usually gold, was placed on the forth finger of the left hand as they believed that this finger enclosed a special vein connected directly to the heart called the Vena amoris, the “vein of love”.
Bronze Wedding Ring
The tradition of the union ring soon began to spread through Christendom with the Byzantines, Christians, Jews, Celts and Moors each adopting the symbolism, however, the style and ornamentation varied considerably.
Ottoman Puzzle Ring
From the Byzantine rings depicting Christ unifying the bride and groom, to the Ottoman puzzle rings, where the object of the style of ring was to render it almost impossible to remove so the that husband would know if the wife had removed it for nefarious activities, to the Fede Gimmel ring where two hands are clasped together in betrothal, one thing they all had in common was that they were made out of precious metals and worn as a symbol of love, devotion and loyalty. The same is true today.