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Jewelry Blog: Wedding Rings
Bridal Jewelry Traditions Around the World
While diamond wedding rings tend to take stage in the United States and across the world, there are a few notable exceptions both in style and symbolism.

The first appearance of wedding rings has an arguable start. Some claim the Egyptians began giving wedding rings; another claim states that wedding rings were not common until the 11th century. Whatever the time frame, wedding rings have become a symbol of commitment to marriage throughout many cultures.

Although a plain gold band continues to be the most popular type of wedding ring throughout the world, there are a few variations. ASD In France and many French speaking countries, it is common for the wedding ring to consist of three interwoven rings symbolizing love, hope, and faith. These rings are commonly made of three different colors of gold; yellow, white, and rose gold. In Greece and Italy, it is common for men to receive a type of puzzle ring made of gold to wear as a wedding band. The idea here is that they must prove their commitment by solving the puzzle and prove their faithfulness by wearing the ring constantly so as not to dislodge the puzzle.

The world over, women's wedding rings most commonly contain diamonds as a sign of indestructible love, however other gem stones have also had a stay. In medieval Europe, the ruby was commonly used because they were red, like a heart. Sapphires were also used to symbolize the heavens, from which love came. Posey rings became popular in France in the 17th century.

These rings were inscribed with poems and love verses either inside or outside to declare adoration. Engraved wedding bands remain a very popular choice today. Wedding rings containing aquamarine represent marital harmony, where as pearl engagement rings were considered bad luck because the shape of the pearl was similar to that of a tear. In Victorian England, snake rings complete with ruby eyes were popular wedding bands because the coil winding around the finger symbolized eternity.

In renaissance Italy, silver betrothal rings became popular. These were highly ornate rings that were usually engraved and filled with black enamel so the pattern would contrast with the metal. Later, when gold became the popular metal of choice, the Italian silver betrothal ring was given first to be followed by a duplicate ring made of gold given at the wedding itself. This is most likely how the idea of separate engagement and wedding rings came into play, a tradition that continues today.

Tradition states that wedding rings are to be worn on the fourth finger of the left hand (including the thumb) because it was thought that that particular finger contained a vein which leads directly to the heart. This is not traditional throughout the world however, as is the case in Norway and Russia where the wedding ring is to be worn on the same finger of the right hand. Wearing two rings, the engagement ring and the wedding ring, on the ring finger has become the norm in North America. The engagement ring in this case usually holds the diamond which is given as a symbol of love and a promise from the man to the woman to take care of her. In Sweden, the bride wears three rings after her wedding; an engagement ring, a wedding ring, and a ring for motherhood, a promise to bring forth a family.

Christian Wedding RingMost Christian weddings include an exchange of rings with the exception of the Quakers who may or may not exchange rings during or after the ceremonial Meeting. Quakers do not consider the traditions of wedding rings to be as much of a necessity as do other denominations. Early on, the Protestant Puritans claimed that wedding rings were a pagan ritual and were not to be used. Further, they were enraged with the Catholic claim that Mary and Joseph wore wedding rings made from onyx or amethyst.

Most religions throughout the world now consider the exchange of wedding rings to be a powerful and romantic symbol in a marriage ceremony. As a matter of fact, Irish folklore indicates that it is bad luck to be wed without a gold ring, even to the extent of considering the marriage illegal without one. Whatever the stone or metal choice, the exchange of wedding rings symbolizes the same ideal the world over; unending love and commitment.
Posted by Kim G at 3:28 PM - Link to this entry  Share this entry
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