The Origin of the Engagement Ring

Engagement Ring from the Byzantine Period
When it comes to engagement rings everyone knows that they’re pretty, sparkly and go on your left hand. But why do people wear engagement rings and why the left hand and have they always been sparkly?

Engagement and Wedding rings have been a sign of love for couples for generations. Today they are still used as a sentiment of love but nobody knows for sure when this tradition began. The oldest recorded exchange of a ring comes from Ancient Egypt. It is believed to have happened about 4800 years ago. In those days rings were very different to what we have on offer now, they would make them in metal, stone and even braid sedges, rushes, reeds and of course their beloved papyrus into rings for women to wear on their fingers. The circle of the ring was to symbolise eternity, no beginning and no end, and the space in the middle was there to represent the gateway to the future.

While Engagement rings go as far back as Ancient Egypt, they have also been associated with Ancient Greece and Rome too. In Ancient Greece married couples would often gift each other with gold jewels to wear on their hands as a token of affection. Young lovers would also do this but with the desire to married to each other one day very soon. Men in Ancient Egypt would wear gold rings to symbolise their status of wealth and when they married they shared one with their wives to show their joint ownership of riches. Sometimes men would give there partners two rings, a gold one to wear out in public and an iron one to wear around the house, some would even include a small key which hopeless romantics believe was a way of symbolising the woman held the key to his heart.
It wasn’t until 1477 when the first diamond ring was used for a proposal, Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a diamond engagement ring. This started a trend among the very wealthy and high society people, causing plain gold and silver bands to drop in popularity.
Mary of Burgundy and her engagement ring

When it comes to what hand and finger your engagement ring and wedding ring should be worn on there are many theories, ultimately the choice is yours. However people do love the old wives tale that has lead people to wear their rings on their left hand. According to Ancient Romans, they believed that the vein in the ring finger of the left hand connected straight to one’s heart, they called it the “vena amoris” meaning Vein of Love. So when it came to marriage or proposals rings would be placed on the left ring finger to signify the love the newly married couple shared. There is also a nice Chinese theory on why we put engagement rings on the fourth finger. Each finger on your left hand is said to represent different family members, the thumbs represents your parents, your index represents siblings, the third represents yourself, the fourth represents your spouse and your little finger is for your future children. This tradition has been around for generations and is still a lovely representation of two people joining as one.
Wedding and engagement ring

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