The Tradition Behind the Engagement Ring
It’s the most fussed about piece of jewelry you’ll ever wear (how many times did your mom make you show it to her bridge club again?) It represents a promise that your lovely fiancée will make you his lovely wife and yet, have you ever stopped to wonder why you receive an engagement ring and not a set of engagement earrings?
You have the romantic Ancient Egyptians to thank for the symbol. The circle was used to symbolize a never ending cycle and the space in the middle as a gateway to new life and things unknown. The engagement band was placed on the fourth finger (the ring finger) because those darling heart Ancient Egyptians believed it contained the vena amoris, a vein that lead from the ring finger straight to the heart (awwwwww!). Even though this later proved to be untrue, you’ve got to admit it’s still pretty sweet. The custom was later used by the Greeks after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. Romans changed the material of the band from hemp, leather, ivory or bone to iron and gave an engagement ring to signify ownership rather than love (we prefer the Egyptians reasoning!). During the second century in Rome a woman was given two rings, one of gold to wear in public and one of metal to wear while doing chores.
The first documented diamond engagement ring was presented by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy, which influenced others of higher social class and wealth to begin using diamonds rings in their engagements. As of late the engagement ring has definitely become more extravagant and luxurious (eh hem, Angelina Jolie) but one thing we hope will never change is the symbol of love and commitment it initially represents.