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With this ring…

Just when the wedding ring made its first appearance is lost in time.
But it's a safe bet that rings were around when the ancient Egyptians were building their pyramids, for papyruses show them at the time of the Pharaohs.

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Those early rings were simple affairs and lasted only about a year - certainly not as long as many of the marriages they were presented at - being made of readily available materials such as reeds and hemp rather than metals, although those who sought something a little more permanent went in for ivory or leather.

In Roman times metal started to make its appearance for ruby diamond rings, the items being said to be ugly and heavy, often being made of lead. Other societies went in for something a little more stylish in brass and copper.

When a bride accepted a ring, she was agreeing to a legally binding agreement between her and her husband, in effect becoming his property. The ring also gave her protection against others who might wish to challenge her legal position as a wife.

Some historians believe that the tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the third finger of the left-hand stems from a Grecian fable which says that blood from an artery in that particular finger – the “vena amoris” - flows directly to the heart. This was a myth which is thought to have been started by the Egyptians and adopted by the Greeks and Romans. It all sounds very romantic, but science with its somewhat more clinical approach has proved otherwise.

The custom of third finger, left hand has remained, being supported by early Christian priests whose marriage services included the clergyman taking the ring and then touching the first second and third finger as he said: “In the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit “placing the ring there and sealing the marriage as he uttered “Amen.”

There was a time, however in the reign of Elizabeth 1 when it was fashionable not to wear a ring on the fourth finger, but on the thumb instead.

British Royalty also saw what is probably the smallest wedding ring of all.

It was given to Princess Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII who was espoused to the Dauphin
of France in a ceremony in October 1518. The princess was two years of age and her groom was born only eight months before his wedding!

It was in about 670 that Christian ceremonies began to feature the ring and as years passed gold became the most popular metal. In Ireland, a gold ring was demanded at it was widely believed that bad luck would ensue if any other metal was used. This posed problems as the majority of people on the

Emerald Isle were hardly sufficiently well off to buy gold. Instead gold bands were borrowed for the wedding service and returned after it was over.

Today it is commonplace for couples to exchange rings during the marriage service, a custom that appears to have begun during World War 11 when young soldiers were being sent to war.
Not un-naturally superstitions have come to surround the wedding ring over the centuries.
These include the belief by some that removal of the ring once it has been placed will bring bad luck.

Another predicts future disaster if the ring should fall to the floor during the wedding service.

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