For many couples, their lives hardly change after they say 'I do.' They might already live together and even have children. But this was almost unthinkable a century ago. In the past, getting married was a more pragmatic occasion. But wedding rings have been found which are over 3,000 years old. 

What does a wedding ring symbolize? Wedding rings symbolize the love between two people. It’s an expression of commitment and unity and symbolizes eternal love. Wedding rings are exchanged between spouses after getting married and are made to last forever. The hand on which the ring is worn, differs from religion to religion.

Read about the history of wedding rings here

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Wedding rings in early history

The first drawings of a wedding - or at least the precursor to modern weddings - where rings were exchanged were made in Egypt around 3,000 years ago. Ancient texts tell of couples who gave each other rings made of reeds or twigs. This eventually evolved into rings made of bone or ivory. These wedding rings were also symbolic. The more expensive the material, the greater the expression of love.
Egyptian hieroglyphs - Egyptian hieroglyphs. The history of wedding rings began in Egypt BAUNAT
Archaeologists translated the Egyptian hieroglyphs and interpreted the message as an expression of total commitment and eternal love. They saw the opening through which the finger went as a door to the future. This symbolism in fact still applies to wedding rings today.
Although a gold wedding ring used to be a sign that two people belonged to each other, now it symbolises unity, commitment and unconditional love.
The Ancient Greeks and Romans also associated wedding rings with certain symbolism. They were placed on the fourth finger of the left hand because this was where the vena amoris was believed to run. This was supposed to be a vein that ran directly to the heart. Now we know that this is not anatomically correct.

Gimmal rings were especially popular in England during the Middle Ages. A gimmal ring consists of two rings that can be attached to each other. The man and the woman would each wear part of it after the engagement. During the wedding ceremony, the man would slide his part onto the woman's finger so that the two parts would become one again.
Deeply symbolic wedding rings BAUNAT - Man and woman both wearing deeply symbolic wedding rings BAUNAT
In many cultures, men did not wear wedding rings until the 20th century. This changed after WWI and II. Many soldiers wore their wedding rings on the front so that they could symbolically have their wives by their side.

Wedding rings and superstition

Wedding rings are a tradition with a long history which has been influenced by superstition over the years. For example, you shouldn't make any jokes about a wedding ring, or you will suffer misfortune in life. A woman's wedding ring can never be worn by anyone else, even just to try it on. According to superstition, this will lead the future spouse to infidelity.
According to tradition you cannot make jokes about wedding rings or let them be worn by anyone else

Superstition on the wedding day

You definitely want to avoid these things happening on your wedding day too:

  • Dropping the wedding rings: According to superstition, the bride and groom must take extra care when putting on the rings on the wedding day. A dropped ring will result in automatic discord in the marriage. According to other myths, the groom will be the first to die if he drops the ring.

  • The wedding ring gets stuck on the finger: If the wedding ring doesn't slide all the way to the bottom of the woman's finger, then the woman will be dominant in the marriage. If the man manages to slide the ring onto his wife's finger easily, then he will probably be in charge.

Read how to work out the right ring size

Wedding rings around the world

In European countries, wedding rings are to be seen. They are adorned with diamonds or other precious stones and might be engraved too. Meanwhile in Israelwedding rings should be as simple as possible. Here the wedding ring symbolises purity.

In Arabic countriesonly the woman gets a gold wedding ring. The man gets a ring made of a simpler metal such as steel. In Arabic culture men should be humble. So gold rings do not traditionally belong here.

Whereas wedding rings symbolise the unity of two individuals in Western culture, they bring together two families in Arabic culture.

Toe ring wedding rings - Indian woman with toe ring wedding rings have a separate history for Hindus
Hindu weddings are also sealed with a wedding ring, but this is not worn on the finger. In Hinduism,wedding rings are worn on the toes, on the second toe to be precise.

Read more about international wedding traditions

Which hand should you wear your wedding ring on?

Wedding ring onto woman's finger - Man slides wedding ring onto woman's finger. Wedding rings have a long history. - BAUNAT
The hand that you wear your wedding and engagement rings on depends on where you live and your religious and cultural background. No engagement rings are exchanged in Islam. Christians traditionally wear the engagement ring on the left and the wedding ring on the right. This custom originated in Ancient Egypt.
In Judaism, wedding rings are slid onto the woman's right index finger during the ceremony. Then she moves it to her left ring finger and the man also gets a ring. Different rules also apply in Asia. They really vary from country to country. In some Asian countries, other types of jewellery are exchanged instead of wedding rings.

Why is getting married still important today?

Getting married marks a wonderful new chapter in your lives. It also changes your life in a few different ways.

  • Financial advantage: Getting married is always advantageous financially speaking. Inheritance rights automatically go to the other spouse when one of them dies. Being married is also advantageous when taking out a loan.

  • Security and recognition: Many couples view a signed marriage certificate as extra recognition of their commitment to each other. You can show your eternal love for each other to the outside world by each wearing a wedding ring.

Men with wedding rings BAUNAT - Two married men with wedding rings: a deeply symbolic picture BAUNAT
  • The symbolism of marriage: Love and symbolism are obviously very important factors. In Belgium, LGBT+ couples have also been able to make their love for each other official by getting married since 2003. The most LGBT+ couples in the world get married in Belgium as a percentage.

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How do you choose the right wedding ring?

Diamonds have become especially important in the history of wedding rings and engagement rings. Since diamond is the hardest material in the world, it symbolises an indestructible marriage. Diamond wedding rings were exchanged as early as the 17th century. Other precious stones have a certain symbolism too. They also add colour to your wedding ring and make it look unique. The most important thing is to choose a wedding ring that you feel comfortablewith.
Set of white gold engagement and wedding rings BAUNAT - Set of white gold engagement and wedding rings from BAUNAT wedding rings with symbolism
Choose an engagement and wedding ring set to be sure that your wedding ring goes with your engagement ring as in the picture.

How can you personalise wedding rings?

It has become customary to engrave wedding rings over the centuries. You can get the ring engraved on the inside, but some types also enable you to get the outside engraved too. Popular engravings include the wedding date, the names of both spouses, a motto or another symbol of love.

Read more about jewellery engraving

picture full of symbolism BAUNAT - Man and woman with wedding rings: a picture full of symbolism. – BAUNAT
Another way to personalise wedding rings is to set them with your partner's birth stone. Each month is associated with a particular (precious) stone.

Browse all our sapphire, emerald and ruby rings now

Why buy wedding rings without getting married?

In the past, getting married had a different meaning compared to now. Nowadays it is a much more symbolic occasion. Many people don't feel like they need a signed marriage certificate to express their love for each other. They might even have wedding rings without actually being married.

When two people find their true soulmate, they like to give each other a symbolof their eternal love They will certainly find the right ring in the wedding ring collection from BAUNAT. You will definitely find the perfect wedding rings to demonstrate your eternal love in our collection.

Weddings have been highly symbolic since the beginning of human history. So it is only logical for wedding rings to be symbolic too. They stand for unity, fidelity, love, and commitment.

Read more about marriage and wedding rings

Now you know a great deal about the history of wedding rings: from their early origins in Ancient Egypt to the present day, from superstition to ways to give them extra meaning for you. Do you know as much about the wedding ceremony itself? You should definitely read these blogs to learn more. They describe traditions abroad and how to plan your wedding in the most efficient way possible.

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