Traditions From Around The World : Engagement Rings
For most of us nowadays, wearing jewelry is usually about style and fashion. We wear necklaces, rings, and watches because they express our personality, look nice, and accessorize an outfit. We also wear them for sentimental value – pieces given to us by someone special, inherited from family heirloom, or that remind us of a time, place or occasion that means a lot to us. In some cases, jewelry has a practical purpose too; watches keep track of time, brooches, cufflinks and tiepins keep various parts of clothing in place, head pieces keep your hair away from your face, and so on. In different cultures around the world, however, the practice of wearing jewelry not includes all the above but also carries a host of traditions, meanings and customs that indicate such things as wealth, status, societal role, and more. In this article, we will explore the origins behind the tradition of engagement rings and its prevalence around the world today.
Engagement rings have come a long way. Engagements weren’t always as glamorous as they are today. The tradition of exchanging wedding rings goes back as far as 4,800 years to ancient Egypt, but back then the rings were made of stuff like braided papyrus and reeds. The endless circle was a symbol of eternity and the hole was a symbol of a doorway to the future. This simple exchange was a true symbol of love. They believed that the 4th finger had a vein that led straight to the heart. This ancient belief became the main reason why our 4th fingers are known as the “ring finger.”
Later on, the Romans followed this tradition. They were the first to exchange jewelry. However, the meaning got skewed along the way – instead of a symbol of love, the ring became more of a claim of ownership. The Romans originally started with the exchange of iron rings. This was their sign of devotion to one another. Some Romans did provide their loved ones with gold rings. They were only to be worn on special occasions outside the home, though. The iron rings continued to be worn at home. The engagement ring was a sign of a contract between two people and signified a promise to wed. It also transferred the ownership of the daughter from the father to the new husband. Engagement ring traditions evolved from that point forward. A variety of our traditions today share similarities with the Roman way. Many men still first ask for permission from the father of the woman they wish to marry.
Austria’s Archduke Maximilian is credited with starting the diamond engagement ring trend at his 1477 betrothal to Mary of Burgundy. However, diamonds were rare and very expensive, and only the wealthy could follow in his footsteps. England’s Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were among the first to popularize ornate engagement rings for more common people, and the trend soon began to sweep the globe. Presently, the availability of diamonds at much cheaper prices compared to a century ago has led to diamond engagement rings becoming a tradition around the globe.
Some unique engagement ring traditions from around the world.
In some countries it is common for both men and women to wear engagement rings. The rings are often in the form of a plain band of a precious metal. Sometimes, the engagement ring eventually serves as the wedding ring for the man. In Brazil, for example, the groom and bride-to-be usually wear a plain wedding band on the right hand during the course of their engagement. After the wedding, the band is moved to the left hand. In Argentina, it is also known for the groom and bride-to-be to wear a plain silver band on the left hand while engaged. Then, after the wedding the silver band is either replaced with the wedding ring or moved to the right hand.
Traditionally, women in the British Isles may propose marriage to men during a leap year. Women proposing has become more common in recent years, to the point that some jewelry companies have started manufacturing men’s engagement rings. They resemble typical men’s rings, often with a diamond centrepiece. In the countries where both sexes have traditionally worn engagement rings, the rings tend to be plainer bands without any real difference between men’s and women’s engagement ring designs.
Today, a diamond engagement ring is seen more as a symbol of love and commitment. The idea that “A Diamond Is Forever” will likely always remain.
Being a symbol of one’s love and desire for a lifelong commitment, selecting a unique and beautifully designed ring is of high important for many people hoping to tie the knot with another. At Lao Pride Inc, we understand how meaningful an engagement ring is for a customer. That’s why our over 20 years of experience in designing and manufacturing custom-made fine jewelry allows us to provide you with stunning items your customers will love. So, contact us today to tell us your idea and take a look at our gallery for inspiring pieces.