The History of Wedding Rings Dating Back 5,000 Years

July 20, 2017 by Kiesha Joseph

The history of wedding rings dates almost 5000 years. During ancient Egypt times, people would weave leather or wood and exchange them as “rings of love.” The ring itself, being round with no end, was a powerful symbol of eternity. Now known as a wedding band, its opening represented a gateway to unknown worlds, which is something newlyweds face after marriage. Here’s the history of wedding rings all the way up to today.

Wedding rings history – Signet Wedding Rings

Romans and Greeks used signet rings as a way to flaunt their own personal signatures on jewelry. Also called a “fede” ring, it features two clasping hands in agreement or love.

The history of wedding rings: signet rings

These rings are believed to be the inspiration behind some of the earliest engagement rings in Rome. Other cultures were exchanging rings as symbols of love. But, according to history, the Romans are the ones who linked the signet ring directly to marriage.

Lovers Heads Wedding Rings

In time, the Romans started customizing wedding rings with their own personal touches. Lovers heads rings featured carvings of the faces of the couples themselves. Some were carved with the full figures of the bride and groom.

Once the Empire proclaimed Christianity its official religion, things switched up a bit. The carvings started to feature the couple with a cross or Jesus behind them blessing their unity.

Fede Wedding Rings

These wedding rings held their popular ground for more than a thousand years in Europe. They eventually evolved into styles featured interlocking bands and ornate patterns.

Fede Ring

Today, the Irish still wear a style of this wedding band called a Claddagh ring. It features two hands coming together to hold a heart with a crown. The Claddagh ring was first created about 13 centuries after Rome introduced the original fede rings.

Posy Wedding Rings

What is a posy? Also known as a posie, it’s a short verse engraved on a ring, often a poem. Posy rings first became common during the 15th century. It all began with bold designs featuring words engraved outside the wedding band.

The designs of the posy rings evolved into simpler ones. However, the engraved words became more and more personal. This caused goldsmiths, ring makers, and jewelers to learn how to engrave inscriptions on the inside of the wedding rings. They believed this kept the message close to the person wearing it while keeping them private.

Gimmel Wedding Rings

Let’s move on with the history of wedding rings. This puzzle-style wedding ring first gained its popularity during the 15th century. The simpler posy rings became, the more complex and intricate goldsmithing techniques became when creating gimmel rings. They feature 2-3 interlocking bands.

Gimmel Rings

Gimmel rings are very symbolic, as each individual band is free on its own, yet they interlock together to create one whole, like joining two together in matrimony. During their engagement, both the bride and the groom would wear engagement bands up until they take their vows. Then, the two rings would be joined together, to symbolize their joining together to create one union.

Jewish Marriage Rings

Wearing a wedding band with an unbroken circle made in solid silver or gold is a long-standing Jewish tradition. It symbolizes everlasting marriage. Bands with no details or stones are symbolic of a strong marriage that is free from complications and distractions.

These Jewish wedding rings date back to at least the 10th century. And, they continued to remain popular until the 19th century. By then, they’d become intricate designs with enamel and lattice.

It features a “roof-like” top, which represents the Jewish temple or the married couples’ home. Designed like lockets, they feature Hebrew inscriptions on the inside. Grooms offered them to their brides during the marriage ceremony as a symbolism of love and unity.

Diamond Wedding Rings

Today, diamond engagement rings, wedding rings, and wedding bands are the most commonly purchased on the market. However, diamonds have been a choice gem for love rings for centuries now. The first diamond ring documented in history was found in Rome during the late 100s AD. It belonged to a young girl, but history doesn’t tell us whether it was given to her as a gift of love or not.

diamond wedding ring set

Their strength and value have always been understood. Yet, diamonds became even more valuable once tools were invented to cut them properly. These sparkling beauties were often sent to the groom’s father from the bride’s father as a promise to marry his daughter off to the recipient’s son. It became common for this symbolic gift to be a diamond ring, which marked the beginning of the diamond engagement rings we know today.

Current History of Wedding Rings – Pearl Engagement Rings

Although diamond engagement rings are the most common, pearl engagement rings are quickly gaining popularity in the wedding jewelry industry. No, they don’t have a past history, like the rings above, but many brides are turning to them to create amazing looking, unique styles for their rings.

When you think of an engagement ring, pearls probably don’t come to mind. But, a pearl center stone is an amazing centerpiece is a stunning choice for a piece of jewelry you plan to wear every day, for the rest of your life. Pearls are just as resilient as pearls, and they come from natural resources. And, these gems are as classic as they come.

Pearl engagement ring with diamonds in gold setting.

Both vintage lovers and modern brides enjoy the simple elegance and sophistication of pearl engagement rings. They can be created as a solitaire pearl ring, or with a bezel setting for a stylish way to protect your pearl. You can create a shimmering ring with a sophisticated pave setting made of small pearls closely set together.

We took a big dive in the history of wedding rings. Wedding rings history is beautiful, reach and ancient just like pearls so let us…

Design Your Own Pearl Engagement Ring

Design your own engagement ring with an open setting featured diamonds and pearls. Pair a larger black Tahitian pearl with one small diamond for a unique look like no other. Add pearls to rings made of 14 karat gold, 18 karat gold, white gold or platinum. You can even add other gemstones, such as your birthstone, to your pearl engagement ring for a more personalized touch.

And, the pearl doesn’t have to be white either! Yes, white pearls are the most commonly used in jewelry. They are also the most popular pearl color on the market. Engagement rings can be designed using black pearls, pink pearls, peach pearls, golden pearls, multicolor pearls and more. You can even have your gem dyed to create a pearl color like no other. Now, how’s that for personalization?

There are so many ways to design a pearl engagement ring. Add rows of pavé diamonds surrounding a single pearl placed in claw-like prongs. Or, slap your single pearl right in the middle of a cluster of diamonds. Thinking about a diamond halo surrounding your pearl? Then, how about a setting made of mixed metals?

The history of wedding rings has just started!

Pearl wedding band with diamond chips encrusted in white gold setting.
Pearl wedding band with diamond chips encrusted in white gold setting.

Pearl Engagement Ring Design Ideas

The Pearl Source creates customized pearl engagement rings and other pearl jewelry. Personalize your engagement rings with diamonds, alexandrite, amethyst, aquamarine, coral, malanite, onyx, opal, rose quartz, topaz, zircon or any other precious gem you choose. And, you can design your own ring setting using the metal of your choice, and have the ring engraved with a message just for you.

Need some ideas for our engagement ring design? Looking for ways to create an awesome pearl wedding rings as well? Click the link below to check out our selection of rings from The Pearl Source.

Shop Pearl Rings Now

Kiesha Joseph
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Kiesha Joseph

The Pearl Source Content Manager at Content Marketing Geek Corporation
Kiesha Joseph is the Managing Content Editor for ThePearlSource.com, a leading online pearl jewelry website offering high-quality pearls at affordable prices. Kiesha is a Content Marketing Geek who enjoys educating her audience on a broad range of topics, including trends in marketing, SEO, jewelry, fashion, celebrity style and more.
Kiesha Joseph
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