A Historical Perspective on the Wedding Bands
“With this ring I thee wed, and all my goods I thee endow. In sickness and in health, in poverty or in wealth, ‘til death do us part”. This is a very traditional wedding vow used to exchange wedding bands and is the most significant outward appearance of the wedding pledge. As early as the Egyptian time, wedding bands were a symbol of eternity with the rings having no beginning and no end. The space for the finger in the center of the ring is thought of as the portal to events either known or unknown. It is no wonder that wedding bands were considered a present of significant importance.
In the Roman times, the wedding band, worn on the third finger of the left hand was referred to as the “vena amoris”, Latin for the vein of love. It was believed that there was a direct connection between the wedding ring finger and the heart. The first ancient wedding bands were made of grass or hemp and later leather, bone or ivory. As time passed, a single gold band with colored gemstones was used but was more a show of wealth. Later still, although rust was a problem, iron was used for wedding bands symbolizing the strength of the bond between a husband and a wife. At one point, the giving and receiving of wedding rings put a claim on a woman as a piece of property.
In renaissance Italy, silver was used for wedding bands and they were inlaid with enamel and had clasping hands on the front. Posey rings, meaning love poem, were made of silver for the engagement ring and later replaced with a single gold wedding band. It is amazing to think that bands of these types led to the diamond engagement ring of today.