Egyptians were probably the first to wear “finger rings” and only the wealthy Egyptian women wore gold rings. The poor folks braided rings from hemp and flowers or used less costly metal. The Romans thought the idea so elite-it was against the law for a slave to wear a ring! Gold rings were worn by a restricted group-ambassadors, then senators, consuls, etc. Laws were later passed to regulate the wearing of rings until Emperor Justinian threw his hands up and said it was okay for just about anyone to wear any ring, made of any metal. How liberating to not be tied to your class by the wearing or not wearing a ring of gold. It was probably the Romans who first “tied” people together in marriage through the wearing of a ring-but it was made of iron.
Christians of the time, who usually disdained all things Roman due to over the top lifestyle, began to embrace the idea of a ring to symbolize marital commitment-they liked that never-ending, eternal nature of the ring-never mind that the Romans viewed the ring as a symbol of a contract that now passed the ownership of the bride from father to groom. Details! The Puritans took all the fun out of it by the tradition of the groom giving his bride a thimble-practical and not the least bit frivolous.
My parents didn’t exchange rings-in fact, most men in the US didn’t wear wedding rings much until after WWII. Our mother said she was just as married without the ring as she would have been with one-and, besides, they needed the money for food!
The hubs and I came up with a uniquely sentimental idea for our wedding bands that saved a little money and always warms my heart! We found a goldsmith in a little mountain town in CO who helped us design the rings-and also suggested that if we had any gold jewelry/rings etc he could use that to melt down as part of the ring. We chose to use my high school ring and his college ring and watched as the goldsmith reduced them to one shiny piece of gold-blended, united. Cool, huh. The goldsmith used an ancient method of jewelry making-sand casting. Not sure of the details of HOW but I sure loved the WHAT-our rings are textured and full of character. When we are holding hands, one of us very often will click our ring on the other’s ring-a tender reminder that we are in this together and that our rings represent that. I couldn’t ask for a better symbol of love, commitment and devotion than my sand casted gold wedding ring. Those silly Puritans….