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Today’s wedding rings are symbol of love, although nobody knows for sure when this tradition materialized. Rumor has it that the oldest exchange of rings at a wedding was recorded in Ancient Egypt, nearly 4800 years ago. Reeds, sedges, and rushes were growing along with the papyrus; these were braided and then twisted into rings. Women wore them together with some other decorative ornaments.


The ring – a symbol of eternity

Just like the circle, a ring is a symbol of eternity. It doesn’t have a beginning or an end, and its significance has extended beyond the Egyptians all the way to all kinds of ancient cultures. A ring’s hole has a special meaning too. It’s not an empty space but a gateway that leads to events and things both recognized and unrecognized. When a man gives a woman a ring, it means that he devotes entirely to her offering her immoral and never ending love.

Because these ancient rings were not made of long lasting materials, they degraded really quickly. They were replaced with sturdier materials such as ivory, leather and bone. The more meaningful and price the material, the stronger feelings of love was shown to the receiver.

Rome and the symbolism of the ring with a twist

In 200 BC the Romans started adopting this tradition of ring giving too. However, they brought a twist to the idea; instead of offering rings to women as a symbol of great love, the rings were gifts sent to symbolize ownership. Men offered rings to women they “claimed”. Later on the Roman rings started being made of iron and were given the name “annulus pronubus”. They were a symbol of performance and strength; some say that the Roman were the first to have rings engraved.

In 860 BC Christians started using rings during marriage ceremonies. But the band was not simple and discreet like today. It came in the shape of an imposing signet ring with engraved lyres, doves, or two hands. Apparently, the Church didn’t approve of the models, and in 13th century the wedding ring started looking more simplified.  A bishop was the one to call the wedding ring “a union symbol of the hearts”. 

Wedding rings in the middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, during a wedding ceremony the man would have to place a band on the thumb of the bride to be. Then he had to take the ring off, and place it again on the pointer finger, then middle finger, and finally on the ring finger. During this ritual the groom had to recite the following words – “the Father, Son & the Holy Ghost”. In Medieval Europe, the tradition was to exchange gold bands that were adorned with gemstones like rubies and sapphires because these symbolize eternity.

Wedding rings symbolism between 15th and 20th century

In the 15th and 16th century Europe the most popular type of ring was the “gimmel”. It featured the most interesting design because it was like a puzzle ring. It symbolized unity and marriage. Typically, the band was made of two interconnected metal bands. After the couple became engaged, both the future bride and future groom had to wear one. At the wedding, the rings were put back together and placed on the bride’s finger.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the poesy rings started to shape up. Considering that a poesy is also known as a ballad or poem, the style of these bands have a special appeal. They gained recognition in the Renaissance where the poesy signet ring had an engraved band. The engraving was usually an expression of love, or a love quote.

Wedding rings today

In the modern world wedding rings are extremely versatile. Some couples choose to have theirs entirely customized. Made of white gold, platinum, or yellow gold and adorned with diamonds and other precious stones, today’s ring is not that simple anymore. The solitaire style is out as the signet ring comes in. For example, if you fancy 18th century-inspired signets you can easily have an adaptation.


Let not leave the groom out of the equation. Mens signet rings are in high demand too. However, they’re not that striking as the bride’s. They don’t feature precious stones on the crest but rather an image, symbol or letter that symbolizes something meaningful to the happy couple.