The History of the Wedding Ring

By Trina Woldt
Chief Marketing Officer, Jewelers Mutual Insurance

It's almost wedding season and we can’t wait to celebrate as couples proclaim their everlasting love, often with the exchanging of rings. But, why a ring? Why the left hand? Why the fourth finger? There’s much about the history of the wedding ring that remains a mystery, but here’s what Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company uncovered.

Some historians believe the age-old tradition of exchanging wedding rings comes from ancient Egypt, more than 4,800 years ago. Sedges, rushes and reeds, growing alongside the papyrus were twisted and braided into rings.

The circle was the symbol of eternity. The hole in the center of the ring was considered a gateway leading to things known and unknown. Much like today, to give a woman a ring signified never-ending love.

The materials these rings were made of didn’t last very long and soon were substituted with rings made of leather, bone or ivory. The more expensive the material, the more love shown to the receiver. The value of the ring also demonstrated the wealth of the giver.

Why the fourth finger?
It was believed this finger held a special vein directly connected to the heart. It was coined by the Latin term "vena amoris" or vein of love.

Why the left hand?
One thought is as the man, facing his bride, reaches straight out with his right hand he naturally touches her left. Another is that the soft metal (traditionally gold) is less worn or injured on the finger of the left hand, due to most of the world being right handed.

Lucky charms
In life a little rain must fall and it’s believed to be especially lucky if it does so on your wedding day. Other good-luck traditions from around the world include:

  • In Greek culture, a sugar cube is tucked into the bride’s glove to “sweeten” the marriage.
  • For good luck, Egyptian women pinch the bride on her wedding day.
  • The English believe a spider found in a wedding dress means good luck.
  • Peas are thrown at Czech newlyweds instead of rice.
  • Ancient Greeks and Romans thought the veil protected the bride from evil spirits.

Whether you are celebrating a new marriage this summer or cherishing yours, Jewelers Mutual® – the only insurer specializing exclusively in jewelry insurance since 1913 – is there to protect your jewelry and the memories it represents. To learn more, visit JewelersMutual.com


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