Wedding and engagement rings are a part of human history dating back to Ancient Egypt. There are numerous interpretations as to why they chose the ring as a symbol of their affection. Leading theories describe that the Egyptians believe the heart was connected to the fourth finger, which we now know as the ring finger, while others think that it is the symbolic round and connected shape of the ring that made it so important. Regardless of its origins, offering and wearing a ring to celebrate unity is a cornerstone of our culture.
Following the Egyptians, it was Ancient Rome, where the rings began to be made from strong, lasting metals, such as iron, as a testament to the certainty of the couple’s companionship. It is around this time that rings began to be engraved. Many of these engravings, however, were not words but, instead, images and shapes, such as the holy cross. During this time period, different cultures would wear the ring on different hands. There are various reasons as to why this may have been. The right hand was believed to have been chosen for religious ceremonies while the left hand was often chosen for the ring because it was unlikely to be damaged since the majority of people are right-handed.
Years later, couples would begin to wear individual rings or bands. These were known a gimmel rings, symbolically interlocked. They would be united for the wedding ceremony before being separated and each placed onto the couple’s hands. Fede rings were also popular, which depicted two hands grasping one another or a central stone. Fede is the Italian word for faith and this particular style of ring was used to depict the religious unity of marriage.
In our modern era, we are not restricted to local metals and stones. Instead, we now have access to some of the most precious diamonds and gems, as well as advanced technology that allows us to craft unbelievable stones. During the 19th century, jewellery designers began to appear on the high street. Tiffany & Co., which was once a fine goods store, began offering exquisite jewellery before making their fame with these Tiffany Engagement rings. Other companies and designers appeared across the world and, by the beginning of the 20th century; the wedding ring industry was bigger than ever.
It is now part of our society that, when a couple becomes engaged, we are curious about the ring. Celebrity weddings will see the front pages of magazines and newspapers covered in snapshots of their rings. Different rings become part of history, such as Princess Diana’s ring, which was remade into Kate Middleton’s. Or Kim Kardashian’s $5,000,000 engagement ring from Kanye West, which was stolen from them in Paris. In the same way that fashion designers are household names, ring designers are also familiar to us. Designers such as Lorraine Schwartz and Robert Procop are two familiar names thanks to their creations for well-known public figures. What was once a simple display of love is now an intricate item of design, crafted and chosen with subtlety in mind. If their history is anything to go by, their popularity is assured.