For centuries, couples have sealed their vows with rings. Of course we tend to think of the wedding ring as the real symbols of vows but in the past, it was far more binding early on. Today, we have “promise rings” which essentially create a non-binding engagement to be engaged. That’s a tradition that’s not as popular as it once was but there’s been a bit of a surge recently. Then, an engagement ring creates a bigger bond with a greater expectation of permanency. Finally, it’s during the ceremony that “with this ring, I thee wed.”
Rings didn’t always have the same kind of emotions behind them. Although rings of various materials symbolized love in ancient Egypt, it wasn’t the same in Rome. In ancient Roman times, a man might give a ring to a woman but it didn’t symbolize love. Instead, it symbolized possession. A roman gave a ring of iron to a betrothed as a reminder to everyone else (and to the woman) that she was “owned.” It’s kind of surprising there wasn’t a chain attached! Of course today even though promise rings and engagement rings are sometimes called by the roman word for those iron rings, annulus pronubus, people understand that a woman isn’t owned by a man.
About thirteen hundred years ago, Christians began using rings in marriage ceremonies. Unlike the elegant bands we use today, they were usually very decorative, very ostentation. In fact, they were so opulent that the Catholic Church discouraged them as having heathen roots! About five or six hundred years later, though, simpler rings came into style and the Church decided they weren’t heathen at all but instead a perfect picture of a union of spirits.
It’s fun to look at the history of a tradition, and these are only two interesting facts about the history of love rings. I’ll tell you what we love about them at Levi Family Jewelers. As a third generation jeweler, we’ve made countless engagement rings, wedding bands, and even promise rings for countless San Diegan’s in love. To us, what’s really important is trying our best to capture the look of love in our customers’ eyes and somehow get gold and diamonds to reflect the emotion.