I find the history of wedding rings & wedding bands fascinating. The wedding ring has special significance as it symbolizes eternity, with no beginning or end, not only to the Egyptians, but many other ancient cultures. It is important that the wedding ring is made of a strong and durable metal as it will be worn for many years. The most important message the wedding ring indicates is that the wearer is married. In most western cultures, it’s worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, otherwise known as the ring finger. The custom of wearing such a ring has spread widely beyond its origin in Europe. The history of wedding rings is interesting, in the United States, wedding rings were originally worn only by wives, but during the 20th century they became customary in that country for both husbands and wives. Please see below some of the historical ring styles throughout history…
The various historical ring styles:
During the 1500s & 1600s, European husbands would give a gimmel ring to their wives. They consisted of two interlocking bands (similar to a puzzle ring). The bride and groom would each wear one of these bands after their engagement. The the wedding ceremony the two bands would be reunited. The wife would then wear the combined ring.
A style of ring that was popular during the Renaissance period. It came in the form of a band of sterling silver, inscribed with an expression of love or a poem.
Other ring styles
There are a variety of ring styles throughout history. For example puzzle rings represent an old traditional custom from the Middle East. This ring was made up of several pieces that would join together in puzzle to make a single cohesive band when worn correctly. The ring was to be very difficult to put on so that if the wife took off her wedding ring, her husband would know. There are many other historical ring styles throughout different cultures.
Information below by Wikipedia on the history of the double ring ceremony in different countries:
The double-ring ceremony
The double-ring ceremony, or use of wedding rings or bands for both partners, is a 20th-century American innovation, but has been used elsewhere before. The US jewelry industry started a marketing campaign aimed at encouraging this practice in the late 19th century. In the 1920s, ad campaigns tried introducing a male engagement ring, but it failed due to the necessity that its advertising campaigns make secret appeals to women. Marketing lessons of the 1920s, changing economic times, and the workplace impact of World War II led to a more successful marketing campaign for male and female wedding bands, and by the late 1940s, double-ring ceremonies made up 80% of all weddings, as opposed to 15% before the Great Depression. Rising expectations of equality between the sexes in nearly all spheres of life during the 20th century cemented the trend and double-ring ceremonies remain preponderant in the US in the 21st century, causing some orthodox religious authorities to struggle to harmonize their single-ring traditions with couples’ desire for a double-ring ceremony. Most recently, double-ring ceremonies have been adopted by same sex couples.
Outside the US, it is still common to find single-ring weddings with just the bride wearing the wedding ring. In several European countries, like the Nordic countries, it is normal to use plain engagement rings of the same kind for both sexes, and typically an additional, more precious, bejeweled wedding ring is given to the bride. In the nuptials the groom’s ring becomes a wedding ring too, and can be put on anew by the bride as a part of the ceremony with marriage vows. The engagement is typically a matter of agreement between the two, where rings are chosen together. Both engagement and wedding rings are worn on the left hand, the bride having both rings together. Occasionally the groom gets a separate wedding ring. In Germany and Austria both parties use engagement rings worn on the left hand. At the nuptials a wedding ring is put on the right hand, as in several east European countries, like Russia, Bulgaria and Poland. This can be a new ring for the bride, or both, or reusing the engagement rings. Any engagement rings can then remain on the left hand or be moved to the right hand. Also in Brazil, Mexico, Spain and Netherlands both sexes wear engagement rings, where the groom’s ring often becomes a wedding ring at the nuptials used in the ring exchange ceremony.
‘To give a wedding ring signifies never-ending and immortal love’.