Everyone likes their ‘big day’ to be really special and a memorable one. Once the couple gets engaged, they and their families get busy planning the wedding right from the venue, the guest lists, the location and décor to the dresses and every minute detail. The most talked about aspect becomes the wedding ring, which the bride is going to wear for her lifetime. In this modern era, more than 60% of men consult their ‘to-be-brides’ before buying them an engagement ring with all the criteria like the colour, the gems, the metal and the design, the works. History unveils that over ages, weddings have always been symbolized by the rings worn by the couples. Wedding rings, more often worn by women indicated that she was committed only to her husband. Today, couples spend less on the wedding ring and more on their engagement rings. While engagement rings are elaborate and more often than not, preferred with precious stones, the wedding rings are quite plain. One of the common reasons for this is that an engagement is to indulge in a grand celebration and share the good news with the world, whereas the wedding involves a host of other expenses. The myths linked to engagements are varied. Most couples prefer to get engaged in the month of December for reasons known best to them. With technology having made massive inroads into our lives, most girls announce their engagements through social media platforms, preferably Facebook to intimate distant relatives and friends. Disney World is said to be the most favoured destination with almost 2000 couples getting engaged there every single year. Call it absurd or simply a reason for a get-a-way, people look for most exotic destinationsto get engaged and married!
Wedding rings are always circular and the myth attached to it is just like a circle is endless, the wedding too, becomes a symbol of an everlasting love and relationship.
From time immemorial, even the caveman of prehistoric times is known to have literally showcased his authority on the woman he liked by putting a line of twisted threads or even fibres around her finger. That’s how the concept of ‘commitment through rings’ goes. Aeons ago, in the Middle East, the ratio of women to men was very low. Young men would put simple brass rings on very young girls finger, as young as 11 years old, to affirm that the girl was now his possession and could not be committed to any other. This action became symbolic of the two becoming engaged until the girl reached a mature age for her to get married to the boy.
The Romans are credited for initiating their idea of making a ring, very often, from copper or brass though the idea of exchanging wedding rings was started by the Egyptians. The giving and acceptance of a ring was regarded as actions of legal commitment, affirming the woman have become a kind of a possession of the man who gave her the ring. Rings of gold and silver were given as symbols of trust – a statement that the groom firmly believed in the loyalty of his wife towards his property and other assets. A groom with implicit faith in his bride would offer her a ring in the shape of a key while carrying her over the threshold of his home. The engagement rings given by Romans were called ‘Anulus Pronubus’ because they had iron content in them, which symbolizes strength and long-lasting possession. Romans were the first to introduce the tradition of engravings on their rings. Around the year, 860 Christians started the fashion of exchanging rings in a wedding. These rings were fashionable and included various engravings, each of which portrayed emotions. As a result, the Church authorities banned them as irreligious. By the turn of the 13th century, wedding rings were fashioned in a simple way as a symbol of love and commitment. Ancient history states that the Egyptian women often plucked the reeds growing alongside water brooks and twisted them into beautiful braids, which they wore as adornments on their fingers. The Egyptians too, believed the circle of the ring represented eternity and giving a woman a ring was to commit undying love for her. Reeds gave way to metals, ivory and bone soon emulated by other communities around the globe.
Different traditions mark the wearing of wedding rings in countries around the world. In the United States, France, England as well as Canada the wedding ring is worn on the left hand but it is worn on the right hand in India, Russia, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Germany. In some countries wedding rings are worn on the thumbs. Amongst the Jews, however, the bride wears the wedding ring on her index finger! The most popular story dates back to the Romans, who believed that a vein by the name of ‘vena amoris’ ran through the third finger on the left hand was directly connected to the heart in our bodies and hence the wedding ring should be worn on this finger. It thus came to be called the ‘vein of love’. While scientists dismiss this as humbug, many people maintain the tradition. A more practical reason is that the fourth finger of the left hand is less vulnerable to injuries as majority of the people in the world are right-handed. Others believed that the fourth finger is the least used fingers. The first ever engagement ring was given to Princess Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII though she was only two years old. In 1477, King Maximilian I of Germany (1459-1519) proposed to Mary of Burgundy (1457-1482) with a diamond ring.
The 19th century ushered in the trend of wedding rings for both partners, thanks to a huge marketing initiative by the jewellery industry in the United States who were interested in maximizing their earnings. This became a tradition which is religiously followed even today. The wearing of rings was made traditional even amongst Christian ceremonies and rites. The holy bible e.g. does not state that a wedding ring is a pre-requisite but the oath taken to love one another is and the ring is worn to symbolize the promise taken.
The country of France follows the tradition of a wedding band to include three interwoven rings. These individual rings actually signify ‘Faith’, ‘Love’ and ‘Hope’. In the country of Turkey however, the wedding band is composed of interlocking metal bands. A puzzle ring, as we call it today, is to be arranged in a certain order to form a single ring. Turkish men would give this ‘puzzle’ to their bride to solve it, considering the same as a test of her fidelity. In the event of a bride not being able to solve the puzzle, would be considered as he was not committed to the relationship. The most interesting tale of wedding rings comes from the country of Ireland. The Irish folk firmly believed that wedding rings should be made of gold or else they would bring bad luck to the couple. Some others believed that if the ring was too tight it was an omen of devastating jealousy which the couple would have to fight and if it was too loose, it was a sign that a break-up was in the offing.
Rings are also used as powerful symbols in some parts of the Church. A bishop wears a ring to signify his union with the Church. Amongst some Orders of nuns, marriage is a complete ‘no’ but they do wear wedding rings to indicate that they are spiritually married to Jesus Christ. The wearing of wedding rings is always accompanied by standard vows of commitment and protection amongst all religions in the world. In India, there are a few Hindu communities where the bride wears a toe ring signifying her marital status. A very amusing anecdote of wearing a wedding ring is that it can save your life!! Apparently in an incident involving a shootout during a robbery, a man literally got a second life because the bullet bounced off his wedding ring instead of hitting him directly.
Diamonds, Gold and other semi-precious metals have been replaced with more affordable jewelry in the 21st century. Though seventeen tons of gold are made into wedding rings each year in the United States, young couples today are more interested in wearing something durable and most people prefer to decide on Tungsten carbide rings as the right choice for wedding rings and for more than one reason. Tungsten rings include tungsten and carbon alloy, both of which makes the rings extremely strong and long-lasting. Tungsten, a chemical element is popularly known as wolfram. When compared to other metals, Tungsten is known for having the highest melting point. Its tensile strength makes it a class apart and an ideal choice for rings.
While diamonds are the toughest to crack, tungsten follows next and is ten times harder than 18k. Tungsten Rings do not scratch or chip. They don’t even bend. Tungsten rings carry an indelible sheen. The range of tungsten wedding rings is vast. You can have these rings made of gold, silver, kevlar, ceramic, resin, and carbon fiber. The bride and groom can customize their tungsten with either their initials, symbols of love or any other engravings of their choice which may symbolize their love. They can decide on the design of the base of the ring, the grooves running across the band, semi-precious stones, the metal and every aspect of the ring. Couples wearing tungsten wedding rings can be rest assured of their choice as these rings are a ‘hard nut to crack’ and yes, they are non-allergic!
The toughness of tungsten is symbolic of assurance, of fidelity and a relationship and hence most people today prefer tungsten wedding rings. It is believed that tungsten wedding rings are made of 100% pure tungsten. The truth is that they are not 100% pure tungsten but includes tungsten carbide. Tungsten in its purest form is very tough to mould as a result of which equal parts of carbon and tungsten atoms are mixed with a binder, either nickel or cobalt or nickel to produce the compound of tungsten carbide. This is used to create the magical and formidable tungsten carbide rings. Nickel in gold alloys can be allergic to some people, but the amount of nickel in tungsten carbide is very low. Also, it is well combined with other atoms and one can be rest assured of not being a victim to any allergy. On the other hand, Cobalt has a tendency to react with the oil in our skin and is also capable of staining a tungsten ring.
Couples who decide on tungsten carbide rings for their wedding can find a generous variety of rings to suit their budget. Tungsten wedding rings for men include a wide range. The Hummer rings consist of a sleek gold stripe which runs along the centre of the wedding band. The Bandit rings carry a ceramic insert of different colours. The Detour rings carry a brushed finish. The very hip-looking Phat Tony tungsten rings and the Crazy eye tungsten rings include a yellow carbon fibre running through the centre of the band.
Men can also opt for the very stylish Oxford tungsten rings or the mad gladiator, which stand out with their ceramic grooves and silver and their brushed matt finish. Men being casual, they prefer flat bands with brushed layers though the very fashion conscious men go in for elaborate designs which could make their brides blush. Women prefer to wear narrow rings, probably to indicate their delicate persona and feminine look. Most women prefer semi-precious stones, diamonds encrusted in grooves in their rings to flaunt them with vanity.
Rings have always signified emotions and commitment in society – be it a token of love, transfer of power from one heir to another or of life long companionship. The history and tradition of wedding rings continues differently amongst the diverse sections of society across the world. Today, wedding rings have become a breeding industry for maximizing commercial revenues. A relationship that demands commitment and symbolizes undying love and faithfulness has become a multi-million dollar industry. While the tradition continues, the superstitions have diminished. Education has paved way for eliminating man-made beliefs and believing in oneself and in each other.