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LADIE'S RIGHT HAND & FASHION RINGS

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BIRTHSTONE, FAMILY RINGS
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BIRTHSTONE, FAMILY RINGS

Ladies Birthstone Rings
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WOMENS WEDDING & ENGAGEMENT RINGS

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About Marriage Rings
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Bridal and Engagement Rings
History & Tradition

“With this ring, I thee wed.” As he says these words, your husband to be slips a simple gold wedding band on the fourth finger of your left hand. Then, you repeat the same words and place a ring on his finger. It is a magic moment, a tradition that is as much a part of the wedding ceremony as your vows. You probably can’t imagine getting married without the words or the rings. Yet, it might surprise you to learn that this is not an ancient custom at all, but rather a fairly new one. The double ring ceremony didn’t come into fashion until late in the nineteenth century. Furthermore, rings were not always worn on what Americans call the “ring finger.” In many parts of the world, the engagement and bridal rings are worn on the right hand, not the left. In some European countries, the wedding ring begins life as an engagement ring. It doesn’t signify marriage until it is engraved. And, among some Eastern religions, rings are not even exchanged during the wedding ceremony. So, how did this treasured part of the wedding ceremony become sacrosanct?

Wedding Ring Traditions

Today, the wedding ring — a circlet made of precious metal — symbolizes the institution of marriage. The bridal and engagement rings tell the world that you are committed to another human being, one half of a couple, “till death do you part.” They are small but mighty symbols of eternal love and fidelity. It was an ancient Egyptian who first placed a ring on the finger of his bride, but not necessarily to pledge his undying devotion. It was more a sign that he had confidence in her ability to care for his house. A Greek or Roman bridegroom gave a ring to their father-in-law, rather than their bride, which probably grew out of an even older practice of purchasing a wife.

Traditions come in and out of favor for many reasons. One is simply good marketing. The American jewelry industry tried to popularize the double-ring ceremony in the late 1800s, but this first effort proved unsuccessful. In fact, exchanging rings, or “doubling ceremonies,” as they were called, didn’t catch on until the late 1930s. Following the War, an improved economy and better marketing helped the industry considerably. By the early forties, 80 percent of all weddings had become double-ring ceremonies.

Bridal and engagement rings, as betrothal presents, comprise one long-standing tradition that has endured. But, in another marketing effort by the jewelry industry, the engagement ring is now often the first in a series of gifts, with the wedding ring given last. The series may include a promise ring, which shows that this is a serious romance; an eternity ring, which symbolizes a lasting marriage; and a trilogy ring, which represents the past, present, and future of the relationship with three brilliant cut diamonds.

Wearing the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand is a time-honored custom in America, England, and France. In other countries, however, the ring is worn on the fourth finger of the right hand. This finger is significant because it is supposed to contain the vena amoris, veia d’amore, or vein of love. This belief originated in classical times, but in actually, it is a myth with no scientific basis. By wearing their rings on that finger, a man and woman were declaring their eternal love.

In some European countries, the wedding ring is the same as the engagement ring. It is the engraving on the inside or wearing it on the hand that changes its meaning. If the wedding ring is a separate ring, there are several ways to wear it. One is for the bride to wear her engagement ring on her left ring finger and have the groom slip the bridal band on the same finger. The bride may also wear her engagement ring on her right ring finger, leaving the left hand in readiness for the bridal band. After the wedding, she may wear both rings together (in fact, they are sometimes attached to each other) or on two different hands.

There is great variation the order in which rings are placed on the bride’s finger. In one, the bride wears the wedding ring below the engagement ring to make it closer to her heart. In another, she wears the ring above the engagement ring, which symbolizes the progression from engagement to marriage. Still another is that the wedding ring is worn alone. In the US, wedding bands are often sold in sets of three, which include the engagement ring, a slender wedding band that is later attached to the engagement ring, and the groom’s ring.

 



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