A wedding ring is every lover's simplest (yet grandest) expression of everlasting love. What most do not know is that it is also one of the oldest. Ancient Egyptians thought of its round, empty center as a symbol for the doorway to a couple's future. A token rich in history; wedding rings have become a universal symbol of love.
Because a ring is a shape with no set beginning or end, as a symbol of eternity, the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt wore it as a public vow to honor the marriage contract. This custom remained within the elite circle until the Roman period. At first, rings were made of simple iron, but during the medieval days, gold rings with jewels became fashionable. The most popular colors for gems were red and blue. They are symbolic, with red the color of the heart and blue the color of the heavens. Eventually, the everlasting diamond became the most desired gem.
The word "diamond" itself came from the Greek word adamas, which means "the unconquerable." As the hardest substance known to man, diamonds symbolize indomitable strength, which fits marriage. The Greeks also believed that diamonds were fragments of fallen stars that came with power and protection for the wearer.
First discovered in India, diamonds were thought to be protection against forces of evil. Astrologers also believed that diamonds could promote eternal love and could guard against witchcraft and nightmares.
In 1477, Archduke Maximilian of Austria started the diamond ring trend when he gave one to Mary of Burgundy, his beloved. The reason engagement rings should reside on the ring finger of the left hand was that Egyptians believed that the vena amoris, the vein of love, connects directly to the heart. On the other hand, the reason wedding rings should be worn on the ring finger of the right hand can be found in the Bible (Exodus 15:6), which mentions that the right hand is the "good and blessed side."
In the 1300s, the Greek Orthodox Church introduced the first use of dual rings in wedding ceremonies. This custom appeared in the U.S. during the start of World War II when young men had to leave behind their loved ones. The rings became reminders for brides that their soldier husbands thought of them always. Immediately after the war, 85% of marriages included rings in the ceremonies.
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