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Past, Present: A Legendary Symbol

by Henry Elfering |

Valentine’s Day left me thinking about engagement and wedding rings. This is a custom that has continued over time, but heck what caused us to declare our commitment with a ring in the first place? After all mankind has been sporting rings since its early antiquity.

It seems the engagement ring was introduced by the Romans. Knowing the love this culture had for jewelry, I buy into that. Back then, the groom would give his bride two engagement bands: one of iron and one made of gold. It appears that ancient Romans wore their unembellished iron bands while at home, but when traveling in public the elite wore gold bands. The band was placed on what we call the ring finger on the left hand. It was believed at the time the ring finger contained a vein that connected directly to the heart. The Iron band was first introduced as a symbol of strength and placed in a circular form representing eternity and became known as a symbol of the martial contract, it was “Ironclad”.

 Our modern day wedding rings are given as a symbol of love and commitment. I’m willing to bet the Roman iron wedding ring indicated ownership more than commitment. Glad we evolved from that. As time and artistry evolved, wedding and engagement rings became more elaborate for the elite of Rome. Just as the Romans evolved in their engagement symbols, we too have begun to move away from the time honored all white diamond engagement ring to a ring more reflective of the bride and groom. Many in their twenties are choosing color to represent their commitment. Whether Princess Diana cleared the way for this new thinking or the popularity of color gemstones among the young started this movement it is here to stay.

The Romans may have sported wedding bands to show their “ownership” today’s couples have abandoned the notion of “ownership” to one of committed support and love. This symbol of their commitment is on display in their independent choice of color for their engagement ring. The look is a timeless symbol as love it’s self.

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