The fourth digit of your hand, between the pinkie and the middle finger, is called the ring finger or Wedding Ring Finger. Its exact etymology is unknown but in the East, it was referred to as the magical or medicine finger. In fact, in Latin, it is called: “Digitus Medicinalis“.
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What hand does the Wedding Ring go on?
An English prayer book dated 1549 actually states ‘the ring shall be placed on the left hand.’
By the 18th century, the Wedding Ring Finger started to become more personal.
History and origin of the nuptial ring
In ancient Egypt
Rings were given to one’s loved one because they were a representation of eternity. A circle has no beginning and above all no end. They were also the shape of the sun and the moon which our ancestors worshipped.
The “Ouroboros” ring for example was in the form of a serpent swallowing his tail and symbolizes both eternal movements as well as the power that devours and regenerates itself as is the natural cycle of life. It is also a symbol of perfection.
Check out this Ouroboros ring designed by London-based Rachel Entwistle and available in silver and gold from online retailer Wolf & Badger.
Today wedding rings are far more streamlined such as this 18k yellow gold 2 mm ruby ring made from recycled gold. It is designed by Annoushka Ducas who was awarded an MBE by the late Queen for her contribution to the British Jewelry industry. It is available at a special price from Farfetch.
After Alexander the Great invaded Egypt, the Greeks also adopted the custom of gifting rings to lovers. Many depicted Eros or Cupid.
Wedding rings today are far more classical.
Check out this delicate wedding band with a rounded inside edge that fits well with your engagement ring.
It is available in 4 colors and different widths from Brilliant Earth.
When the Romans conquered Greece they too emulated this tradition. At first, they used iron and copper, and by the 2nd century onwards gold.
Perhaps not a wedding ring but this copper turquoise statement ring called ‘fools gold ‘ is a square-cut copper turquoise statement ring designed by Lisa Godwin and made in Jaipur. It is available from Wolf and Badger with free delivery.
For more information about demi-fine rings check out my post:
They became more ornate using gemstones
Check out this luxurious double row 18 karat gold ring available in white, yellow, and rose gold from Dubai-based Aquae Jewels
Goldsmiths began to free themselves from the patronage of the Church. They organized themselves into guilds. Rings started to become more popular. Symbolic and religious value was attributed to the wedding ring.
The gem-stones became more varied
Rubies were used to indicate passion.
Check out this passionate ruby in the center of this diamond-encrusted band from Brilliant Earth.
Or check out this exclusive 14-k white gold Ruby stackable ring from Gabriel & Co:
Sapphires embodied protection.
Check out this protective Petite Elodie sapphire in this sleek, classic, gold ring from Brilliant Earth.
Diamonds were used for their strength:
Check out this Luxe diamond ring featuring scalloped pavé diamonds from Brilliant Earth
Interlocking bands started to be used.
Check out this Silver interlocking wedding ring :
The age of Enlightenment
The artisans expanded their artifacts. Secret rings were made that were divided into two parts.
Romantic engravings were used.
Popular Religious Customs
The Christian Wedding Ritual
It is a popular custom for the Best Man to bring the wedding rings to the Altar. The engagement ring is transferred to the right hand during the procession down the aisle. The fiancée then puts the nuptial ring on her left hand. Later the engagement ring is put on top to protect the wedding ring.
The Jewish Wedding Ritual
Which wedding ring finger in the Jewish Ritual? Traditionally only the bride receives a ring at the ceremony. The groom places it on her right index finger and she transfers it to her ring finger as a sign of acceptance.
Islamic Wedding Ritual
The exchange of rings is not contemplated in the Islamic ritual. The wedding ring is generally worn by the bride on the left hand.
Wedding rings for Men
Up until the great world wars, wedding rings were worn only by women. This changed when soldiers started to wear them to remind them of their partners when they were a long way from home. The wedding ring finger was either the fourth digit or the pinky.
Check out this special-priced unisex classic ring in 14k gold from Aurate New York.
Check out this classic 4mm comfort Platinum wedding band for Men from Brilliant Earth. For a limited period of time when you purchase a ring, you will receive a surprise jewelry item.
Types of wedding rings
From classic wedding bands to something completely over the top with or without gems there is a huge choice out there to adorn your wedding ring finger.
Check out this 18k gold ring from Gucci available at Farfetch
Traditionally the ring was in yellow gold. Today white gold and platinum are often used.
Check out my post on ring shapes