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Engagement Ring Traditions from Around the WorldApril 19, 2019 - Jewelry Articles
- The origin of engagement rings
- Engagement ring traditions from around the world
- How to upgrade your engagement ring
The Origin of engagement rings
Engagement rings have ancient and diverse roots. They are believed to have originated in ancient Egypt, where circles were considered a powerful symbol of eternity due to their continuous shape. Couples would exchange rings made from braided reeds or leather as a sign of devotion. These rings were worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it has a vein that connects directly to the heart, called the vena amoris.
The ancient Greeks wore a plain gold band on the left hand which moved to the right hand when married. Meanwhile in Ancient Rome, Roman women wore a ring on their right hand to symbolize their passing from the house of their father to their husband’s.
In the Middle Ages, married couples wore fede rings, a ring design that displays clasping hands to symbolize union. More affluent couples could adorn their fede rings with precious stones. The diamond engagement ring as we know it emerged in 1477 when Archduke Maximillian of Austria gifted Mary of Burgundy a gold ring with the letter M arranged in diamonds.
Engagement ring traditions from around the world
Engagement ring traditions in South America:
- Chile: Men and women wear engagement rings on their right hand when engaged and once married, move the rings to their left hand.
- Argentina: Couples exchange rings during their engagement rather than during the wedding ceremony.
Engagement ring traditions in Europe:
- France: Rather than diamonds, French brides are more likely to have their engagement rings adorned with vibrant gemstones like sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Traditionally, the bride-to-be will also gift her groom with a watch.
- Ireland: The Claddagh ring, which features two hands holding a heart adorned with a crown, can indicate a person’s relationship status. The hands represent friendship, the heart symbolizes love and the crown embodies loyalty. When a person is single, or not in a serious relationship, the Claddagh ring is worn in the right hand with the crown turned away from the wearer. If in a relationship, the ring is still worn on the right hand, but with the crown facing them. When engaged, the Claddagh ring is worn on the left hand with the crown facing outward. Once married, the ring is worn on the left hand with the crown facing the wearer.
- Sweden: The bride and groom wear simple gold or silver bands as engagement rings, and the bride receives a diamond ring on her wedding day.
- Germany: When dating, couples wear a promise ring on their left hand. Once married, the couple will move the same promise ring onto their right hand.
Engagement ring traditions in Africa:
- Kenya: Rather than just rings, ornate beaded jewelry is bestowed to the future bride. The types of adornments and colors used will vary depending on multiple factors, such as the couple’s region and religion.
Engagement ring traditions in Asia:
- China: Traditionally, money, jewelry or other valuables were given to the prospective bride while she presents the groom with a dowry that may consist of linens, furniture or a tea set. Today, many brides have started to follow the western engagement ring tradition.
- Vietnam: On the couple’s engagement day (not to be confused with the wedding day), the groom’s family will present gifts to the bride’s family. Either 3, 5, 7, 9 or 11 gifts will be prepared, depending on the family’s wealth. These gifts may consist of wine, roasted pig or a husband-wife cake. The families will pray to their ancestors for their approval of the marriage and once the ritual is complete, the husband-to-be presents his future wife with an engagement ring.
- Thailand: Men will ask for their future bride’s hand in marriage through a “thong mun” ceremony which means “gold engagement.” The man will present his prospective bride with golden jewelry that may also include an engagement ring to demonstrate that he has the means to take care of her.
- India: Traditionally, women wear iron bangles which symbolize good fortune and prosperity. On her wedding day, the bride will be richly adorned in jewelry including necklaces, headpieces, rings and nose piercings.
- Hindu Cultures: Instead of wearing a ring on their finger to represent their marriage, brides wear toe rings called “Bichiya”. Modern brides may also opt for wearing a ring on their finger.
How to upgrade your engagement ring
After reading about engagement ring traditions from around the world, are you feeling inspired to update your own ring? WP Diamonds can help you afford the engagement ring of your dreams with our upgrade program. Simply sell any diamond jewelry, designer jewelry or luxury watches that you no longer love for cash OR for 10% more in the form of store credit.
Selling with WP Diamonds is always simple, free and fast. We are able to provide all of our clients with competitive cash offers thanks to our global presence and industry connections. To get started:
- Simply complete our online form to get a price quote on your items.
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- As soon as our experts are able to see your pieces in person, we will contact you with a firm buying offer which you can accept by wire, check or in store credit.
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