A symbol of eternity over generations, the ring remains a beautiful icon of enduring love, a promise of togetherness.
As Elvis sang in the classic wedding ballad ‘She wears my ring to show the world that she belongs to me, to show the world she’s mine eternally’.
Band of gold
The band of gold on the third finger of your left hand not only indicates your marital status and your lifetime commitment to your partner, it links you to the ancient history of the ring as a symbol of perpetual love.
Spanning generations, cultures and ancient civilisations, the sentiments symbolised by your ring are steeped in tradition and imbued with promise.
The giving and wearing of a ring is a custom that can be traced as far back as 5000 years. Egyptians regarded the ring as a powerful symbol representing eternal life and love. Papyrus scrolls and ancient relics show evidence of the exchange of braided ‘rings of love’ made of hemp, leather or woven reeds.
The fable of the third finger
Wearing the ring on the third finger of the left hand is a custom that dates back to the time of the building of the pyramids, as the Egyptians believed that finger had a special vein connected directly to the heart – the vena amoris or the vein of love. Many people still believe this, but it is more myth than fact as all the fingers in the hand have a similar vein structure.
The exchanging of rings is a relatively recent custom. The single ring worn by the woman was originally a symbol of ‘ownership’, derived from the customs of Europe in the Middle Ages. In the United States, wedding rings were initially only worn by wives, but became customary for both partners during the 20th century. Encouraged by the jewellery industry, the double ring tradition coincided with changes in gender ideology and the women’s movement.
In the tradition of romantic symbolism, an engagement ring is a sign of affection and intention to take the next step and marry. Often bought by one partner and given to the other – sometimes as a surprise, tends to reflect the style and dreams of the one who purchased it.
Engagement rings have a history independent of the wedding ring, showing the wearer is betrothed and being associated with ownership. Archaeological findings have indicated that cavemen tied braided grass around their partner’s ankles and wrists to keep control of her.
Today, the engagement ring is universally recognised as a symbol of love, a promise of an enduring relationship.
The tradition of ‘something old’ is not just a whimsical wedding tradition, but part of an ancient ritual that has endured to symbolise the power of love. Some couples may inherit a family heirloom ring that makes it particularly special to the giver and the recipient.
Choosing a ring
As you plan your wedding, choosing a ring will be added to your To Do List. Think about your lifestyle. Do you want to wear your rings all day whatever you are doing? Or are you happy to take off your engagement ring because it is too elaborate for day-to-day activities and just wear it for special occasions? Some questions to answer when you are thinking about the ring:
- Start with a budget. What do you want to spend? One ring or two?
- What sort of style and design can both of you agree on? Do you want the rings to make a statement or be subtle? The wedding band should complement the engagement ring.
- What will the rings be made from? Gold (white, rose, yellow), platinum, or mixed metals such as silver. You can even choose silicone.
If you are planning matching rings, consider your partner’s work and regular activities. Some gold or platinum rings may be inappropriate for sportsmen or tradesmen such as a plumber, builder, bricklayer or cabinetmaker. But science has the answer for those who prefer something more practical for their lifestyle – there are now rings made of non-conductive silicone, polished wood or durable tungsten which is stronger than gold.
The gift of a lifetime memory of your wedding day
The one thing from your wedding day that will remind you of that special day and endure for the rest of your life will be your ring. So, your exchange of rings is an enduring gift to each other.
Gift Card Registry makes gift giving easy
While you are both involved in choosing your engagement and wedding rings, think about your family and friends who you are inviting to share the occasion with you. They will want to give you both a gift that will enhance your life together, so suggest they contribute to Gift Card Registry. Set up a registry for guests that is secure and easy for everyone to use. After the wedding, Gift Card Registry will send the total amount loaded onto a prepaid Mastercard for you to buy the gifts you really want. For details, go to giftcardregistry.com.au, or phone 1300 354 632.
Plan B for the wedding day
Keep the ring safe with either the best man or a ring bearer, but have a Plan B. Slip a cheap ring (even a curtain ring) in the pocket of another groomsman in case there are any hitches during the ceremony, such as the ring not being found at the right moment – it has happened!