These days many people take wedding bands and engagement rings for granted, and although they give these beautiful items of jewelry with integrity and love, they are often given with no real knowledge of the meaning and the story behind them.
Both wedding bands and engagement rings are very special items of jewelry. In many countries engagement rings are placed on the ring finger of the left hand. Once it was believed that this finger contained a vein (the vena amoris) that led to the heart.
Royalty and the Affluent
Engagement rings became popular in around the fourteenth or fifteenth century, when the affluent and the royals began to exchange and wear these jewels. However, these items were so expensive that nobody other than the royals and the rich could afford to exchange them. It was to be many centuries before these engagement rings would become more popular or traditional.
The first recorded diamond engagement ring was exchanged in 1477 when Archduke Maximillian presented the token to his betrothed Mary of Burgundy, with a ring set with thin, flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an “M.”
Prior to that event, engagement rings were either plain metal bands (iron for commoners, while gold and silver were used among royalty) or used less expensive gems.
Most men today buy diamond rings for their beloved. The tradition of diamond engagement rings began with the Italians. In Italy it was once believed that diamonds were derived from the “flames of love” and therefore clearly represented the bonds of everlasting love. In mineralogy the word diamond is originated from the ancient Greek word adámas which means “unbreakable”.Diamond is renowned as a material with superlative physical qualities from the strong bonding between its atoms.
Although the ancient Egyptians are sometimes credited with having invented the engagement ring and the ancient Greeks with having adopted the tradition, the history of the engagement ring can only be reliably traced as far back as ancient Rome.
The ancient Greeks are thought to have been the forerunners in the rising of the traditional engagement ring. Given as a token of care and affection, the rings used by the Greeks were known as betrothal rings and were given before marriage. However, the giving of these rings was not always a pre-requisite to marriage and was often given in the same way as a friendship ring might be given today.
As seen by their use of the wedding ring, ancient Romans weren’t the most sentimental of people, and the early version of their “engagement ring” were thought to have carved keys on them. It has been debated that this could have been to symbolize the woman’s right to access and own half of everything following marriage. However, the more sentimental like to think that the key may have been a key to her husband’s heart.
The purpose of engagement rings and wedding bands is to convey deep emotions of eternal love, eternal happiness, eternal commitment, and eternal togetherness. In fact, these rings signify eternity – between the giver and the recipient. A ring, of course, is a complete circle with no break and no end or beginning, which means that it just goes on and on – it is eternal.
In Chinese macrocosmic symbology, the circle expresses the shape of heaven, with earth signified by a square. When we see a square inside a circle in Chinese art, it represents the union between heaven and earth. The deeply significant yin yang symbol is circular, and thus speaks to us of encompassing the whole of duality with intent for unified balance.
Engagement rings are ultimately circles of metal, and the circle is a part of very sacred, symbolic geometry. Circles have no beginning and no end and thus represent eternity, renewal, wholeness, and perfection. With not-so-primitive understanding, you will see your first circles – the moon, the sun, the dots in the skies as planets, stars, and realize a grandeur that can be spoken in a circular language.
Also Read: Diamond Engagement Rings – Best Choices