Isadoras antique jewelry

The Traditional Ring

Different Traditions for Different Eras

The ring dates back to ancient Egypt, or of if legend holds true, our oldest ancestors, the cavemen. It is said a caveman would wrap a string around the finger of the woman he desired for his mate. Perhaps is it simply a legend - less romantic than a man on bended knee, but perhaps it is not untrue.

The ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese all considered the ring a symbol of eternity, although each culture gave this symbolism its own nuance. The Egyptians saw the circle as something without end. And therefore love and life were symbolized by the ring with no end. In a ring, the Romans saw eternity and also the circle of life. And the Chinese thought of the ring as an endless cycle of unbroken continuity.

antique wedding band Antique Gold Engraved Ring

The look of the engagement ring has had many permutations over the centuries--to the caveman it was a piece of string, to the Romans a band of iron. During the Medieval Era, gemstones were introduced. The wealthy chose symbolic tokens to add layers to the ring's essential meaning. A man might give a ruby ring to symbolize love or a sapphire ring to symbolize the heavens. And in 1477 Maximilian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy on the announcement of their engagement. This is the first recorded history of a diamond ring used as an engagement ring, although certainly not the last.

It is said for a time the Puritans tried to vanquish the engagement ring in their quest for a more austere world but they were unsuccessful. Couples, maybe not all couples, need a symbolic something to announce to the world that they have made a public commitment to each other. And while the 1950s reached the height of engagement ring conformity, today more and more couples are looking back at history and forward at their future. They are selecting rings that speak to them specifically rather than choosing a ring that fulfills some prescribed notion of the perfect engagement. Because for each couple, it is their decision as to how they express their lasting commitment, whether it be a with diamond ring, sapphire ring, or an engraved band.