History of Wedding Rings

wedding ring (or wedding band) is a ring worn on a finger, usually made of metal, to indicate that the person wearing the wedding ring is married.  Typically, the wedding ring is worn on the third finger (ring finger) of the left or right hand depending on the culture.

Wedding rings come in many forms, traditionally crafted in gold, silver, platinum and/or other precious metals and stones. Culturally, wedding rings are important; this importance exhibited by many people wearing them night and day causing an indentation in the skin which remains visible when the ring is taken off.  Another indication of cultural importance is that wedding rings are one of the few items that prison inmates and visitors are allowed to wear.

Wedding rings have been worn since ancient times.  Historically, the first wedding rings were found in ancient Egypt.  Dating back to 6,000 years ago, evidence including papyrus scrolls, shows us braided rings of reeds or hemp being exchanged between a wedded couple. The rings, viewed as a symbol of eternity by the Egyptions, signified the never-ending love between the couple. Egyptions, believing the ring finger of the left hand to house a special vein connected directly to the heart (known a Vena amoris), began the practice of wearing the wedding ring on this finger.

The Western traditions of wedding rings can be traced back to ancient Rome and Greece first associated with dowry and later with a pledge of fidelity.  Wedding ring traditions evolved from ancient Greece and Rome customs which were adopted by the Christians in the Middles Ages of Europe.

In the United States, only wives wore wedding rings until the 20th century when both husbands and wives customarily wore wedding rings and wedding bands.