Wedding Rings

A brief History

It takes 2.5 cubic metres of rock to obtain enough gold to make a wedding ring. The tradition of exchanging wedding rings can be traced back to ancient Egypt. The Egyptians were among the first to use the ring as a symbol of eternal commitment. Later, the early Romans established a custom of exchanging rings when finalising business contracts. Eventually, they included marriage contracts in this practice. Christians adopted the custom during the second or third century, adding inscriptions of love and faith in their wedding bands.

It is not really known when or how the tradition of placing a betrothal or wedding ring on the fourth finger originated. Egyptian legends tell us the ring was placed on the fourth finger of the left hand because the vena amoris (vein of love) runs directly from that finger to the heart. Different countries keep different traditions. In Italy and Australia the wedding ring is worn on the left hand, in Germany on the right hand.

During the Middle Ages at Christian wedding ceremonies, the priest touched the bride's fingers (starting with the thumb) while saying, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen" and placed the ring on her fourth finger. This tradition can still be found today.

An exchange of rings as a love token or betrothal is known in the art of the ancient world already since Antiquity as a symbol of closeness or attachment.

Early wedding portraits are showing a finger ring as the central attribute, usually handed over by the groom to the bride asking her to remain faithful.
During medieval times breach of faith could be punished by beheading with the sword.