Nothing symbolizes the lifelong commitment between two people like the wedding ring, which for thousands of years has been used for this purpose by many different cultures. While these rings have long represented the bond between husband and wife, scholars are quick to point out that marriage contracts have usually been financial exchanges between two families, with love often having very little to do with it.

Wedding Bands For Men – Never Before WWII?

Some historians also believe that the wedding ring originated with slavery, back when women were captured by men or sold as property by their families. This seems especially apparent when compared to the much shorter history of the men’s wedding band, which did not become popular until World War II, when military husbands would use them to remember their wives at home. Such a one-sided tradition suggests that the wedding ring was a “shackle” that a husband placed upon his wife instead of a symbol of mutual commitment.Sponge Bob Square Pants 3D 5 In 1 Combo hot

Egyptians Tied Hemp Rings Around the Vein of Love

The history behind the wedding ring, however, has been mixed since it began in ancient Egypt. Because the ring has no beginning or end, the Egyptian couples would exchange ones made of hemp to show their eternal commitment to each other, as well as place them on the fourth finger of the left hand where they believed that the “vein of love” (which ran closest to the heart) resided.

Romans Introduced The Metal Wedding Band

The Greeks and Romans adopted many Egyptian wedding rituals and were the first civilizations to regularly use metal wedding rings, typically made of iron to represent a lasting contract. Roman society particularly emphasized the husband as master of his household, though it would be presumptuous to think that these marriages were loveless, as Roman women were given a great deal of freedom compared to other ancient cultures.

In The Middle Ages, Diamonds Bought The Best Brides

Rings made from precious metals such as gold were given to brides throughout the Middle Ages, but the tradition of using a diamond ring did not begin until 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave one to Mary of Burgundy. During this period, marriage was not only a religious institution, but also an important financial and political contract between powerful families. Since diamond rings were exceedingly rare, an upper-class husband would use these as the ultimate symbol of his financial worth and political power when “buying” his bride.

Finally, Romance In A Ring

Romance came to the wedding ring in France around the 16th century, when couples would give each other interlocking “gimmel” rings that would be joined during the wedding and placed on the bride’s finger. Romantic wedding traditions also arose in other parts of Europe such as Ireland, where brides would wear Claddagh rings featuring a crowned heart clasped by two hands to represent friendship, love and loyalty to their husbands.

Still A Status Symbol Today, But Maybe The Tables Are Turned

These traditions continue to influence the reasons behind wedding ring sales today. While a ring no longer represents a woman’s subjugation, many people in America still treat them as status symbols, especially since celebrities use them to show off their wealth. Many men, therefore, sell their marriages into financial slavery by purchasing a diamond worth a quarter of their salaries just to prove their love. The wedding ring, then, continues to represent both captivity and love, albeit in a different form.