We consider it almost mandatory to exchange engagement rings when a marriage is agreed upon. But it is only in recent times that it has almost become a part of the wedding rituals. Wouldn’t it be interesting to travel back in time and see what the commoners and royals of the medieval ages did for commemorating a betrothal.
Right from the medieval ages, the circle was believed to signify something that has no beginning and no end and is therefore immortal and eternal. That led to the ring being worn on the finger to signify the unending love and commitment of a person to his or her spouse. The ancient sciences also made out that the vein passing through the ring finger also goes to the heart, and therefore this finger was chosen for adorning with the engagement ring.
The ancient ages saw those early civilizations like Egyptians and Greeks first adopting the practice of exchanging engagement rings. In the initial days, metals had not yet come into vogue, so simple rings woven with reeds were used by the Egyptians. In those difficult times, the ring made of metal was not always a sign of undying love. It was more a symbol of staking out ownership of the woman! The golden band worn by her in public symbolized that she had already been betrothed and no one else should cast their eye on her now.
As we progressed, the first instances of what we see today began to be seen in the middle ages. The couple getting married would repeat the holy vows as guided by the priest, and the ceremony would be concluded by both bride and groom exchanging rings. This period made the process more open, and the church used to stop marriages if someone could provide adequate and compelling reasons why a particular marriage should not be solemnized.
We see the exchange of a diamond engagement ring as par for course today. The first time a diamond was used to embellish an engagement ring was in the 5th century, when the Roman King Maxmillian presented an engagement ring in which a set of exquisite diamonds was made to make the shape of the letter M on the ring.
The diamond engagement ring really came into its own during the Victorian era. Things were set in motion during the engagement of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This period is known for its flowery symbolism in clothes and jewelry, and the engagement ring was no exception. The engagement ring could not be a simple metal band or even a band with a few precious stones on one larger stone. The engagement rings had intricate floral designs and used a wide variety of precious stones, like black onyx, sapphire, ruby and of course the opal, which was said to be a particular favorite of Prince Albert.
We have come a long way since those medieval days, and now engagement rings are an intelligent combination of elegant looks and easy practicality.
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