By: Chelsea, ECC
“I’m engaged!” When someone tells you that, your first reaction would be to look straight at the left hand for a beautiful engagement ring. Have you ever thought of how that tradition came around? Some say it could have begun way back when caveman would braid grass around the wrist or ankle of their chosen mate. In that case we have come a long way from grass to a diamond ring!
The engagement ring arose in 1215 when Pope Innocent III added to Pope Nicholas declaration to make the engagement official instituting a mandatory waiting period between the engagement and the wedding making it where the engagement could not be avoided or skipped over and the ring having a more important role. At this time only the wealthy could afford beautiful stones for their engagement rings while majority had a metal engagement band.
Proposing with a diamond ring did not really become popular until 1477 when Archduke Maximilian I of Habsburg proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a ring with flat diamonds pressed into it in the shape of an ‘M’. Even as the 19th century came around, diamonds were still very uncommon unless you were rich or famous. Diamonds were desired for the engagement ring but there was not enough until 1870 when the rich Kimberley deposit was founded in Africa, making the price of the diamond drop and diamond becoming the most popular thing for a man to give a woman and the famous quote, “Diamond’s are a girl’s best friend” very true!
Today 80% of women are given an engagement ring. In countries such as Denmark and Germany, plain simple bands are still very popular for both men and woman to where. In places like Norway the ring is worn on the right “ring finger” instead of the left. So even though there are many different traditions and styles of the engagement ring, it has been around for many centuries and will continue to be the symbol of true love!
While there is not a specific date that the tradition of exchanging wedding rings began, it is to the surprise of many people that the wedding ring is a tradition that dates all the way back to Ancient Rome. However it was not to be used in the Western World however until the late 13th century. While modern day wedding rings are typically exchanged as a symbol of love and devotion, historically speaking, the wedding ring was a symbol of valuables and the contract of economic safety between two individuals. During this time, the wedding ring was traditionally only given to the bride and the male partner did not wear a ring. The double ring ceremony is more of a modern tradition beginning in the 1920’s as a result of the American jewelry ad campaign promoting male engagement rings.
While the exchanging of wedding rings is a popular tradition through the United States and Europe, it is not the only tradition used worldwide. The exchanging of wedding rings as we know it today throughout the United States is heavily based off European influence, namely the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer whose vows included “With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen”. This practice is also seen in the Jewish, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox religions.
While the use of wedding rings or marriage bands are nearly universal throughout the world, other symbols are used in some cultures to signify marriage. For instance throughout South Asia, a married woman of the Hindu religion wears a gold necklace known as a Mangalsutra and the groom marks the forehead of the bride with vermillion to symbolize marriage.
However you choose to symbolize your marriage, with a ring, a necklace or without a symbol at all one thing is universally consistent with nearly all cultures and societies and that is the celebration! When you are ready for your celebration, no matter what the occasion, let Plaza Lecea help make the process a memorable one!