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The practice of wearing wedding rings goes back for centuries, bringing with it a rich history of tradition and symbolism. The original wedding rings were made of woven plant material and were prevalent in ancient Egyptian society. Since then, the practice has spread all over the world and is central to most European wedding traditions.
In modern times, woven reeds have fallen out of fashion, and rings made of gold and various metals have taken their place. Even tungsten rings and ceramic rings have cropped up as popular alternatives. While the materials have changed, the symbolism lives on all these many centuries later.
So what is so important about a wedding ring? What does it symbolize, and why are its shape and style so meaningful for wearers? It's quite a complex topic with a lot of interesting history around it. Read on for a more in-depth understanding of the symbolism of wedding rings.
The wedding ring's constituent parts may have their own symbolic meanings, but it is useful to remember that the ring itself is, in fact, a symbol. It acts as a token representing the love and eternal bond between each member of a couple. It is a tangible object that serves to remind the wearer of their partner as well as of the eternal commitment that they've made to one another.
Suppose you'd like to view the wearer's hand as a microcosm of their life. In that case, the wedding ring provides an aesthetic upgrade, in the same way that their partnership with their significant other creates an overall improvement in their wellbeing and makes their life more beautiful.
When discussing the symbolic meaning of an object, its shape is one of the most important factors to consider. In the case of a wedding ring, the roundness of the band invokes all the symbolic properties associated with the circle.
The primary interpretation of the circle as pertains to matrimony is that, as an unending shape with no true beginning, it represents infinity and eternity. Similarly, a couple that is engaged to be wed has pledged to love one another for all eternity.
This shape also has other romantic associations, like its parallel to the shape of your partner's arms during an embrace, as well as the idea of wholeness, perfection, or completion.
In many countries, including the majority of the English-speaking world, the wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger from the thumb of the left hand. However, this is not a universal practice in cultures that have adopted the custom of wearing wedding rings. In many other countries, including Russia, Ukraine, and Austria, wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the right hand.
In some religious groups, such as the Greek Orthodox Church, the ring is worn on the left hand before the ceremony and moved to the right hand after the marriage is official. During some Jewish wedding ceremonies, the bride temporarily wears her ring on her right index finger.
If you've never considered the diversity present in these traditions, maybe you'd like to look into practices associated with your own heritage and learn how to engage with your ring in a more special way.
The shape is not the only part of a wedding ring that carries social meaning. The material that it is made from is just as important. Each different material has historically been associated with different social factors or symbolic meanings. Here are some of the significances of the most popular materials and some practical reasons for wearing them.
Tungsten carbide is one of the most popular materials used for making wedding rings, especially men's wedding bands, at the current time. This is for quite a good reason. This material is durable and resistant to scratching, as can be seen by its Moh's hardness scale rating of 9 out of 10. This means that the only thing that can scratch tungsten rings is a diamond, which bodes well for people concerned about keeping their wedding bands in scratch-free, pristine condition for the long haul.
One drawback of tungsten rings is that they cannot be resized. If the wearer’s finger size changes a new ring must be purchased. However, many wearers find this worth the risk in exchange for their enhanced durability.
Ceramic rings are the new trend that is sweeping the wedding band industry. Their extreme popularity probably has something to do with their surprising affordability. You won't find a cheaper wedding band made from a different material. And ceramic rings are light weight when compared to other materials, such as tungsten and gold. So, if you are concerned about having a heavier feeling on your finger then a ceramic ring is for you. They are also popular due to the wide variety of styles in which they are available. It turns out that this versatile material is perfect for constructing the unique wedding band of your dreams.
Ceramic rings are also very low maintenance and easy to clean, and they won't cause an allergic reaction the way some metals do. It's the perfect practical option for couples who want all the benefits with no drawbacks.
Titanium is a popular choice of material for several practical reasons. For one thing, it is hypoallergenic, which has enormous benefits for those who find themselves sensitive to various metals. But for another, it is an incredibly durable and strong material. Those particularly concerned about keeping their wedding band safe from damage would do well to invest in a titanium offering.
In terms of symbolism, this rigid and unyielding material can be a representation of you and your partner's strong and unbreakable love for one another. What better way to make a romantic gesture and a practical investment at the same time?
Platinum is another very practical choice, but it also has some symbolic benefits. Platinum as a material has always been associated with prestige and social capital, so it's a great choice of symbol to demonstrate the intangible value of your love by means of a tangible, valuable object.
On the practical side, it has the same hypoallergenic properties as other materials like ceramic, tungsten, and titanium, although it carries a higher price tag, and therefore is more elite and enviable.
Wedding rings made from yellow or white gold are probably the most traditional and historically most popular option that you can get. Many wearers enjoy that the style is so classic and iconic, so it can never be a wrong choice.
This material is also very easy to clean, so it has some practical features as well. However, in terms of symbolism, the colors yellow and white are traditionally associated with fidelity and friendship, respectively. For this reason, some couples prefer to choose materials or colors with more romantic symbolic ties.
Rose gold is also a rising trend in wedding band materials, and it's easy to see why. Not only is the color quite attractive, but it also carries a symbolic meaning associated with love and romance. What better choice could there be for the piece of jewelry intended to represent the eternal love between you and your partner?
Depending on the size and style of your wedding band, you may want to consider engraving a small message or symbol on the inside to make it a little more unique. This is a very popular practice in the modern age, and couples have chosen a wide variety of subjects to engrave.
If you and your partner have any idiosyncratic romantic sayings that you commonly use, this would be a perfect choice for engraving. Following that, your wedding date or a more generic brief romantic message are both great options. Keep in mind that rings with very small bands, bands with intricate designs or bands with a wood interior probably won't be able to be engraved, so keep this in mind when buying the ring if you have your heart set on an engraving.
Some people may be wondering what the best way is to manage to wear both an engagement ring and a wedding ring at the same time. Again, traditions may vary among different groups of people. However, a very common practice is to wear them both on the same finger, with the wedding band closer to the bottom knuckle and the engagement ring on top.
One reason for this is quite practical. While a simple wedding band doesn't get in the way very much, and some wearers prefer never to take it off, an engagement ring can sometimes be cumbersome. That way, if you need to remove your engagement ring for any reason, you don't have to also remove your wedding band to access it.
As you can see, a wedding ring is far more than just a heap of twisted metal or gold or woven plants. These cultural artifacts are imbued with deep symbolism and carry with them a rich history that can be continued by modern practitioners of this tradition. So perhaps when you find yourself searching at Steven G Designs for a tungsten ring or a ceramic ring for your special day, this important background knowledge will make the experience even more special.
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