In geometry, a circular shape signifies the concept of eternity. It has no beginning and no end, it goes on forever. That is why we exchange and wear rings more as a sign of commitment than as just a trinket which looks good. Whether rings are a simple metal band or an ornate creation encrusted with precious and semi-precious stones, the single underlying theme behind the gifting of a ring is the promise of a lifelong commitment. For many centuries they were indeed crafted as simple metal bands, and diamonds on rings started to be used only at the fag end of the fifteenth century. The most common metals used are gold and silver, although other valuable metals like platinum have also begun to be used.
There are several types of rings in use. When a man and woman are betrothed to each other to be joined in a holy union, they often signify this promise with a promise ring or an engagement ring. On the actual day of marriage, a wedding ring is exchanged between bride and groom. Usually, the male wears a plain metal band, whereas the ring worn by the woman is slightly more ornate, and could be adorned with some precious stones as well. The reason for this distinction dates back to centuries ago, when the males were the hunters-gatherers and used to do a lot of physical work with their hands, which is why the wedding band was kept simple. But nowadays many women also go out and work in difficult environments, so many women choose a simple wedding band.
Once the marriage has passed a few years or when it reaches a special milestone like a silver or golden anniversary, the husband often gifts an eternity ring to his wife to commemorate the occasion and renew the pledge of eternal togetherness. Another post-marriage ring is the Mother’s Ring. It consists of two wedding bands that are conjoined using the birth stones of the couple’s children.
Another interesting ring is sometimes exchanged and worn before marriage, and it is usually referred to as a ‘true love waits’ ring. It signifies a promise from both sides to abstain from sex till the marriage. These rings are most commonly made from sterling silver, and are also referred to as purity rings.
Men used to wear a special kind of rings in earlier times which usually had a specific initial or the family crest carved onto it. It was not worn on the ring finger like other types of rings, but used to adorn the little finger of the men who wore it.
Another ring which has very old roots is the Claddagh Ring worn by the Irish. The design of this kind of ring is a little different and you will notice two hands on it, usually holding the central stone of design. These hands represent the bond of friendship, and the heart that they hold represents love. Usually made of gold (or sterling silver sometimes), these rings have been gifted and worn for many centuries in Ireland.
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