Symbolism of Wedding Rings – What Do They Represent?

Affiliate Disclosures

Wedding rings are ubiquitous and have existed for thousands of years. These are circular metal bands worn commonly on the ring finger of either the left or right hand and are exchanged between a couple on the day of their wedding to symbolize eternal love, friendship, trust, and fidelity.

These bands are mostly forged of platinum, gold, or silver, in order to ensure their permanence, and are made from precious metals to emphasize the importance and sacredness of marriage.

Wedding rings are not only prized for the material that they are made of but are immensely valued as bearers of deep emotions and sentiments. They mark an occasion that many people consider the most important days of their lives.

In this article, we will be exploring the origins of wedding rings, their significance and symbolism, historical and modern styles, and the different metal options for selecting rings. 

The Significance of Wedding Bands

The meaning of wedding bands come from several factors. These include:

  • The shape – wedding bands are round with a hole in the middle. The symbol of the circle signifies no beginning or end. As such, it symbolizes infinity and completion. The hole in the center can signify a new pathway. 
  • The metal – wedding bands are typically made of precious metals, which can have their own symbolism. Platinum signifies purity, true love, rarity and strength while gold symbolizes love, wealth, grandeur, wisdom and prosperity.
  • The gemstone – if you decide to have diamonds or other gemstones added to your ring, they can add another layer of meaning. Diamonds, for example, represent integrity, strength, purity and everlasting love. 
  • Personalization – this refers to any engravings, symbols or other forms of personalization you choose to include. The meaning varies, depending on the type and style of personalization you choose.
What makes a wedding ring meaningful

The Origin of Wedding rings

The Egyptians

The Egyptians were the earliest civilization to use rings as a symbol of love. They made their rings with reeds, hemp, papyrus, and leather, which were twisted and shaped into a circle. The circular shape of the ring symbolized an endless and eternal union between the couple.  Additionally, the space in the middle of the ring was considered by the Egyptians as a door to a new life that would lead the couple into paths both familiar and unfamiliar. The Egyptians wore this symbolic ring on the left finger of the left hand because they believed that this finger had a vein that went straight to the heart.

Greece and Rome

The origins of wedding rings in Europe can be traced back to ancient Rome. The Romans adopted the Egyptian tradition of exchanging wedding rings but unlike the Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans made the rings out of bone, ivory, and later on precious metals. The Greeks did not use rings solely for the purpose of marriage but also gifted them to lovers and friends. On the other hand, the Romans were the first to decree that rings had to be exchanged in weddings. In Roman society, the ring was only worn by the woman, and seen as a public marker of her marital status.

Modern Western society

Western society adapted and continued wedding traditions that were established by the Romans. However, for many centuries in both Europe and the United States, it was only women who wore the wedding ring.  This phenomenon began to change during the First World War. Soldiers and officers took pride in wearing their wedding rings to display commitment to their spouses. It also reminded them of good memories with their family who were far way. Since the time of the First World War, wedding rings have been worn by both partners to depict their deep love and commitment.

What do wedding rings symbolize

Wedding Rings and Religion

Christianity

The wedding or marriage ring came into use in Christian ceremonies in the 9th century AD.  In Christianity, wedding rings are not only exchanged as a symbol of love between partners, but also as a commitment towards God.  The couple say their vows and exchange rings before God to get his blessings, and to emphasize that their union is deeply spiritual.

Hinduism

In Hinduism, the exchange of finger rings has never been prevalent. In recent times this trend can be found among the younger generations, but even then, the ring is merely a symbol of love and does not have any religious significance. In most Hindu cultures the women wear toe rings, or Bichiyas to signify their marital status. There are several reasons cited for wearing the toe ring, but the most common belief is that the toe ring presses on nerves which are connected to the reproductive system and keeps it healthy.

Styles of Wedding Rings

putting finger on ring wedding ceremony

Both in the past and present, wedding rings have never been designed in a singular style. There have always been a variety of options for the couple to choose from. Historical rings were mostly made of gold and had designs etched into them. On the contrary, modern rings are admired for their intricate carvings, and are preferred to plain rings.

 Some of the historical and modern ring styles will be explored below.

Historical Styles

  • Signet Ring: The Signet rings were carved with a person’s name or a family crest.
  • Fede Ring: The Fede ring had two hands clasped together and was made of more than 2 rings attached.
  • Carved Rings: Carved rings had an image of the couple sculpted in them.
  • Poesy Rings: Poesy rings were mostly made of gold and had an inscription of a song or a verse carved into them.
  • Gimmel Rings: The Gimmel rings had two or more interlocking bands. They were similar to Fede rings.

Modern Styles

  • Classic Style: The most classic style of wedding ring is the plain band, typically made of gold or platinum. This often has no embellishments.
  • Eternity Band: This style features a band with a row of diamonds or other gemstones surrounding the surface of the band. These can be held in pave or channel settings and can be either half or full eternity.
  • Chevron – This is like a wishbone shape and holds the symbolism of the wishbone. It’s also a practical option that can accommodate a large stone in the engagement ring.

Best Wedding Ring Metals

Not only does the style of the wedding ring matter, but also the metal. Most people expect the ring to be long lasting and durable. While some people can afford the most expensive metal, others seek ones that are well within their budget. Fortunately, in today’s world, there are ample choices available. The metal choices for wedding rings are listed below:

Platinum:

  • Out of all metals, platinum is the most desired due to its durability and beauty.
  • It’s one of the strongest metals available on the market but is also among the most expensive.

Yellow Gold:

  • Yellow gold rings are the most commonly bought and have been in use for centuries.
  • They have a yellow hue, a beautiful shine, and are long lasting.

White Gold:

  • One of the most popular options today, it’s often chosen as a substitute for platinum.
  • White gold contains a rhodium plating that adds shine, luster and strength to the metal.

Red/Rose Gold:

  • Rose Gold/ Red gold has become a trend in recent times.
  • This type of gold has a beautiful, rosy tint and are preferred by those who want a more modern touch to traditional gold.

Silver:

  • Silver is sometimes chosen for wedding rings. If polished regularly it sparkles and shines.
  • It is great option for many because it is strong, yet inexpensive. However, silver is hard to maintain.

Titanium:

  • Titanium wedding rings have become more common recently. It’s a very strong metal, but light weight at the same time.
  • Titanium is a great option for those who want a durable ring at an affordable prize.

In Brief

The exchange of rings has played an important role in wedding traditions both in the past and in the present. Irrespective of which finger the ring is worn on, all traditions see wedding rings as a significant marker of love and marriage. There are numerous styles and metals to choose, and in recent times there are plenty of options for everyone in varying costs.  

Tags: