Monday, 22 September 2008

Engagement Rings

Presumably if you're reading this, you're already engaged. Then again, maybe not! Many people out there are wedding enthusiasts who love to read about nuptials and nuptial issues even when they're not getting married or are already married.

Chances are, however, that you are wearing an engagement ring or will be wearing one in the future. It's interesting to look back at the history of this oh-so-significant piece of jewelry.

Did you know, for example, that the tradition of exchanging wedding bands is much older than the tradition of the groom-to-be giving his beloved a ring of her own? In many if not most cultures, marriages have been historically associated with the exchange of wealth. Sometimes it's the bride price and sometimes it's the dowry.

One essay I found had this to say:

The engagement ring may be a custom that is distantly related to this payment of a bride price, similar to the custom of the bride's family paying for the expenses of the wedding-- derived from that of providing a dowry.

Historical records in Europe show that future grooms from wealthy aristocracy gave engagement rings to their beloveds beginning in the 1400's. This coincides with the rise of Courtly Love, with the wealthy and privileged classes more free to romanticize marriage, beyond its practical economic, political, and social purposes.

Many different types of engagement rings were given as symbols of binding promise, including rings made of every metal from gold to iron, set with no gems at all, or emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and of course diamonds. The practice of marking a deep and binding promise through the giving of precious jewelry is ancient.

As for diamond engagement rings, that's a whole different story. For now, remember that no matter what kind of ring you have, it will likely be a special treasure you hold close to your heart for a lifetime...even if you don't wear it every day!

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