These days, engagement rings are universally recognized as the beginning of a commitment between a man and a woman, which usually ends up with a marriage. When a man offers an engagement ring to a woman, besides his feelings and admiration for that woman, he also presents his intentions toward a future together and for starting a family. At least this is what an engagement ring means for most people. So, if the engagement ring represents the promise, wedding rings seal the deal. Worn by those that are already wed, the wedding ring represents the eternal connection between the two spouses, which nothing and no one could destroy.
- Engagement rings around the world
These are the generally accepted beliefs regarding engagement and wedding rings, but you are about to find out other customs connected to these rings from various parts of the world. You’ll be surprised to discover their meaning in different cultures and their status within a couple.
In the western world, the woman is the only one that gets an engagement ring, but in Chile, both partners will wear this sign of loyalty, love, and commitment. In this country, both partners will wear similar engagement rings on their right hands. Once they are married, they move the engagement ring to the left hand, making room for the wedding ring on the right hand. This transition is not made because they can’t wear two rings on one finger, but more due to its symbolism. By doing so, the newlywed pair marks crossing over from the engagement status to the married status.
In Hindu cultures, to show their engagement to a man, women wear rings around their toes, rather than their fingers. So, yes, we are still talking about an engagement ring, it’s just the custom of wearing it that differs in this case. This ring is called “Bichiya” and the reason for wearing it this way is quite interesting. It is believed that wearing a ring on a particular toe will stimulate the nerves that make the connection to the woman’s reproductive system, keeping it this way healthy. Of course, it is worth mentioning that there are women in India that wear their engagement ring in the western kind of way, so not everybody wears them on their toes.
In cultures across India, bracelets are seen as more important than rings. Thus, engaged women receive bangle bracelets made out of various materials, such as iron, gold, glass, and others, as these bracelets represent prosperity and good fortune. Furthermore, on their wedding day, women of these cultures are heavily adorned with very many jewelry items, glamorous clothes, and they have their hands and feet painted.
Another interesting engagement ring is the one found in Ireland, called the Claddagh ring. The Claddagh ring represents friendship, love, and loyalty, and has a special design to represent all of these. The ring appears like two hands coming together, which represent friendship. These two hands hold onto a heart, which represents love. And, finally, the heart is adorned with a crown, which represents loyalty. Facts show that this ring was first produced in the 17th century, but it managed to remain a popular choice among couples even nowadays.
- The wedding rings
While there’s a general belief that the first place where wedding rings appeared was in Ancient Egypt, recent discoveries showed that the Neanderthals were the first ones that use this type of symbol to mark the existence of a connection between a man and a woman. Of course, the first wedding rings were rather rudimental, as they were made out of twigs, rushes, or grass that was tied around the finger.
The Ancient Egyptians took this ring to different levels and started making them out of bone, ivory, leather, or hemp. Later on, they discovered that wedding rings could be made out of metal. Because of this reason, these rings were regarded as ring money. What’s interesting is the fact that a woman who received this ring also gained unlimited access to the man’s fortune. Men started wearing wedding rings only in the 20th century, so until then, it was only the women who had this symbol of marriage on their finger.
These days, in western countries, the 14-karat gold ring is universally accepted as the best choice for a wedding ring. However, the 9 and 10-karat, especially in the US, become increasingly popular. In countries from Asia, pure yellow gold is more preferable, which means that wedding rings should range between 18 and 22 karats. In India, gold is regarded as a symbol of beauty and superiority. So, in this culture, the more gold the bride receives, the happier she will be, as beliefs state. The husband in India can also choose to wear a wedding ring, usually with high gold content. This means that he is more than willing to invest in his marriage in the long term.
If you’re planning to propose, while traditions remain important when choosing that special piece of jewelry, it isn’t only your origins and culture that you might want to consider; consider your own personal taste, too. Today, couples all over the world are following their hearts and doing whatever feels right. There are plenty of options to choose from, but which one is for you? However you express your love, it’s always best to do it from the heart.