Alberto Garzoli
Jewellery Advisor
May 2022

The wedding ring: history of a timeless symbol

The history of the wedding ring dates back some 5000 years to the time of the ancient Egyptians. The circle was considered the shape that represented infinity and was therefore ideal for the construction of amulets that sealed love and inseparable unions. The giving of the ring, regardless of its material, was also a gesture by which the husband handed over the management of the house and its protection to his bride. This tradition did not stop even after the fall of Egypt with the Greeks and Romans.

The wedding ring of the Roman era often also bore the family coat of arms, which the wife was part of and often used to seal drawers and preserves. More curious is the exegesis of wedding rings from the Christian era: they were anything but simple rings, bearing many symbols such as doves, intertwined hands and other designs. It was by the Church, for whom these artistic elaborations were all too reminiscent of paganism, that the rings took on the form we know today. The name ‘fede nuziale‘ (wedding ring) derives precisely from the Latins: fides, in Latin, means faith; furthermore, Fides was also the Roman goddess of loyalty and fidelity and vows made in the name of this goddess were considered the most inviolable. Wedding rings underwent another evolution during the Renaissance: the fashion of inserting engravings inside the rings dates back to this era. The engravings were of a private nature and this also led to the transformation of the ring from a symbol of a purely commercial agreement between two families to a true symbol of love.

Why is the wedding ring worn on the left hand?

Another curiosity related to this iconic necklace is its position: why is it worn on the ring finger of the left hand? There are numerous theories, let’s find out some of them. A probable explanation for the fact that the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger could be that in Latin ring is called ‘anulus’, a word from which ‘anulare’ (ring finger) is also derived. Chinese culture dedicates each individual finger of the hand a specific category: the thumb represents parents, the index finger is dedicated to brothers and sisters, the middle finger to ourselves, the ring finger to our partner and the little finger to our children. The ancient Egyptians wore their wedding ring on the ring finger of their left hand because they thought there was a vein, the ‘vena amoris‘, that went straight to the heart. According to Christian tradition, the wedding ring is placed because the officiant touches the first three fingers of the hand, imposing the blessing, ‘in the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit’, and then places the ring on the fourth finger. A purely practical explanation is that the left hand is the one least used and therefore the ring is least damaged. However, not all peoples wear their wedding rings on the left hand: in Northern and Eastern Europe, for instance, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand, as well as in certain regions of Spain.

Author: LingYung Huang, Artist

Wedding rings: white gold, yellow gold and other materials

As for the materials used to make wedding rings, they can be different. From silver and iron, used by the ancients, there has been a move to using first yellow gold, then later also rose gold and white gold. Another material that is increasingly in demand is platinum. Sometimes the bride’s wedding ring is embellished with diamonds or other stones. The diversity of materials is also accompanied by a diversity of shapes: the classic yellow gold wedding ring varies from three to 10 g, convex on the outside and flat on the inside, which, like those of F.lli Pisa, can be embellished with diamonds on the inside. Another interesting model is the Mantovana wedding ring, which is wider and flatter than the classic one. It is 6mm wide and flatter on the inside than the classic one and ranges from 5 to 8 grams.

The French wedding band is flat on the inside and slightly convex on the outside. It is much appreciated as it can be easily matched with other rings and for gentlemen, not always used to wearing this type of jewellery, it is less invasive. The weight of this ring is about 5 g. Finally, we have the comfortable wedding ring, which has both an external and an internal curvature and whose weight varies from 3 to 10 g.
Those described so far are, of course, the classic wedding rings, which immediately bring this type of jewellery to mind; there are others, the result of different cultures. Regardless of shape and material, the true value of a wedding ring is its sentimental value, the symbolic charge it represents.

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