The Roots of the Diamond Engagement Ring
The history of the wedding ring is not fully understood. Many sources cite ancient Rome as the original birthplace of the wedding ring, but others cite ancient Egypt as the home of the wedding tradition centuries before. And these ancient Egyptian rings were pretty different from today’s gold and diamond wedding bands. Brides wore rings woven from plants that grew alongside the Nile River. These makeshift rings, a far cry from a diamond cluster ring of today, usually did not survive very long with daily wear. Later, women were given more long-lasting metal rings. At the time, iron was the preferred substance to make these rings, but iron rings had the problem of growing rusty.
As the tradition of wedding rings passed from the Egyptians to the Greeks to the Romans, and all over Europe, the use of more precious metals and jewels became increasingly common. In fact, in Ireland, it was considered bad luck to use any metal besides gold for a wedding ring. Diamonds became popular due to their strength and durability. Interestingly, the use of more expensive materials to create wedding rings transformed the ring into a symbol of an economic contract between families more than a sacred contract between two people.
Although there is no mention of wedding rings in the Bible, some wedding ring traditions do originate from the Catholic Church. Indeed, in the 13th century, Pope Innocent III standardized marriage practices. One change he instituted was an expected waiting period between an engagement and a wedding. He also mandated that a different ring should be used to formalize each contract. That is why women generally have both an engagement ring and a wedding ring today.
For centuries, it was women alone who wore wedding rings. That changed in the twentieth century. World War II brought about the change for many countries. The tradition of wearing a wedding band expanded to men so that they would have a happy reminder of their lives back home with them when they went off to fight. Wedding ring traditions continue to grow and change around the world. In some cultures, gold and diamond wedding bands are traditionally worn on the toe rather than on the finger. In other cultures, it is traditional to give an additional diamond cluster ring for a major wedding anniversary.
Whatever your religious or cultural tradition, you can find a diamond cluster ring set that best reflects your own relationship, while continuing a tradition that has become an important symbol of the marriage vows.
Photo Credit: TMAB2003