The lore behind wedding rings
Q: Why are wedding rings worn on the fourth finger of the left hand?
A: The reason for this is somewhat obscure. The legend goes that the ancient Romans (or some say the Egyptians) believed a Vein of Love or “Vena Amoris” runs from the fourth finger straight to the heart, and a ring worn on that finger was a symbol of deepest devotion and love.
Scientists, however, assure us that there is no such vein. Another theory explains that a valuable ring worn on the lesser-used fourth finger is least likely to get nicked or damaged than on the outer fingers. In the past, when rings were worn many different ways, this may have influenced the tradition.
Did you know…
The first record of a diamond engagement ring was a gift from 15th century German emperor Maximilian I to his betrothed Mary of Burgundy, with the stones set in the shape of an “M.”
In many countries, wedding rings are traditionally worn on the right hand. In Jewish culture, for instance, the wedding ring is placed on the index finger.
Most scholars agree that our use of the wedding ring custom started out with the Romans, who gave their brides an ceremonial gold band, then an iron one (sometimes engraved) as a sign of possession. In Christian Rome, rings became more elegant and symbolic, while the exchange of simple wedding bands was popular for most of the Middle Ages.
In those days, only the nobility could afford to present their brides with such rare treasures as Maximilian’s. The availability of diamonds and other gems skyrocketed as later colonial empires began exploiting the mines of Africa and India in the 1700s and 1800s. New cutting and shaping techniques made diamond jewelry more desirable.
By the time De Beers started their “A Diamond is Forever” promotion in the 1940s, more people than ever before could afford to buy diamond jewelry. Diamonds became the ideal symbol of timeless love, and the top choice for both engagement & wedding jewelry.
Did you know…
In the days before the best man held the ring, he was the groom’s sidekick in kidnapping the bride, and warding off opponents.