It’s almost upon us. February 14th. The Day of Love. Valentine’s Day. Adored by many and loathed by more than a few people (often single people) who deride it as a “Hallmark Holiday” and the like, Valentine’s Day has a rich, colorful and fascinating history that dates all the way back to third-century Rome and includes everything from pagan rituals to Greek Gods to English romantic poets.
But what about the history of another time-honored and truly revered symbol of undying love and romantic union? What about the history of…
The wedding ring.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we? Get your chocolates and red wine ready.
According to scholars, the history of wedding rings dates back more than 5,000 years ago. During the heyday of ancient Egyptian civilization, lovers would weave leather or wood and exchange them with one another as “rings of love.” As a circular object with no end, the ring was a powerful representation of eternity — or in this case, eternal love. Of course, eternity and the afterlife were major themes – obsessions, even – within Egyptian culture.
Historians also credit the Egyptians with pioneering the practice of wearing one’s wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand (now simply known to all as “the ring finger”). Why this particular finger? According to Egyptian beliefs, it contained a special vein – known as “vena amoris” in Latin or “vein of love” in English – which led directly to the heart. Of course, we now know that all veins lead directly to the heart. But it’s the thought that counts. Especially when it comes to romantic love.
Signet Rings Show Their Face
Both the Greeks and the Romans (who borrowed liberally from many Greek customs and cultural traditions) used signet rings to express their own personal signature and expression. At times referred to as a “fede” ring, a signet ring is characterized by two hands clasped together, symbolizing a loving and trusting connection and union. Romans also were known to customize their wedding rings, including carving the faces (and sometimes entire bodies) of the couples into them. The earliest known examples of wedding rings in both Greek and Roman culture were made of bone, ivory or leather. Eventually, Romans became quite fond of metal rings. The most common metal used was iron, although the wealthier citizens and aristocracy of Rome often favored gold and silver rings.
Don’t “Fede” Away…
Signet or fede rings became incredibly popular all across the European continent for several centuries, peaking in the 12th century before eventually evolving into more sophisticated styles that showcase elaborate patterns and interlocking bands. In modern-day Ireland, many people still wear a variant of this style of ring, known as a Claddagh ring (named after the fishing village near Galway where it first appeared). One of the last remaining examples of a fede ring, the Claddagh ring remains quite popular in Ireland and other parts of the world (including with Irish-Americans), and is characterized by two hands coming together to hold a heart that’s topped with a crown. The direction of the crown (either facing the wearer or pointing outward) traditionally represents whether the wearer is single or “taken” by another.
Things really reached a new level when the dazzling brilliance of diamonds became more available to and popular among non-royalty — thanks in large part to advancements in diamond-cutting practices, tools and technology. Today, diamond wedding rings, wedding bands and engagement rings are the most popular choices of betrothed couples around the world. Scholars have recorded the existence of a much more primitive diamond ring dating all the way back to second-century Rome. As diamond rings became more ubiquitous, it was also a common practice for the bride’s father to send a diamond ring to the groom’s father. And so the engagement ring began to blossom. We still love it today, of course. Especially on Valentine’s Day. What better day to propose marriage to the love of your life, really?
Modern History: Jewelry Insurance from Zillion
In the earliest and olden days of wedding rings, protection was granted only by the sword (and sometimes as hair pins that doubled as daggers for Roman women.) Of course, things have changed quite a bit since those days. Since we first opened our doors, Zillion has existed to provide protection for all your treasured wedding and engagement rings — along with any and all other valued jewelry pieces.
Backed by our robust network, deep well of experience, streamlined claims process and overall ease-of-use, we empower each of our customers and clients to enjoy true peace of mind when it comes to your precious jewelry. It’s simple, really. When your jewelry is protected by a Zillion jewelry insurance policy, you’ll feel an even deeper level of trust and love regarding your engagement or wedding ring, diamond bracelet or any other insured piece.
So why wait any longer to secure your own legacy and protect your treasured love? Start your own personal history with a fast, easy quote on our homepage today. We promise you, you’ll find it to be more than sweet.