When we think of Ancient Egypt, lots of images come to mind. We think of the grand pyramids and the Sphinx. We think of beautiful art, of gold and precious gems. We think of mummies and mystical tombs. There’s a lot to Egyptology, and it was a remarkable civilization but did you know that it was likely the first place wedding rings were used? It’s amazing to think that a tradition so universal now may have started before recorded history!
Today, wedding rings are expected and their symbolism has a lot to do with the typical ceremonies of marriage, a symbol of commitment and love. That was the same in Ancient Egypt. Although nobody can be absolutely certain of when the tradition actually started, most archeologists and anthropologists believe the first record of wedding rings dates to about four thousand nine-hundred years ago, and the record comes from Egypt. It seemed to have started by weaving grasses into ornate designs for wear by women. The grasses and hedges grew where papyrus, the ancient paper, was cultivated.
To Ancient Egyptians as well as many other ancient peoples, the circle was a symbol of eternity. A circle had no beginning and no end. They believed the hole in the middle of a circle was a gateway to the future, and putting a finger through it meant acceptance, a willingness to carry forward into a future even when what would happen wasn’t completely known. In short, the ring symbolized eternal love and absolute commitment. Of course, with such symbolism, using such flimsy materials didn’t last very long. Soon, rings were made of leather and then bone and then ivory. There were two reasons for the change over and above the longevity of the ring. First, the value of the ring symbolized the level of love. Second, the quality of the ring symbolized the wealth (and therefore the ability to support a wife) of the giver.
It’s interesting to see how some of what made wedding rings important in Ancient Egypt still holds true today! Of course in today’s world, just about anyone can afford a beautiful ring and at Levi Family Jewelers we don’t think the size of the ring symbolizes how much love is involved. We believe every couple, whether they’re rich or poor, ought to be able to have a beautiful and elegant symbol of their love, and that’s why we’re in business in the first place.