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.
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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.
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When the Romans conquered Greece they too emulated this tradition. At first, they used iron and copper, and by the 2nd century onwards gold.
They became more ornate using gemstones
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.
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Sapphires embodied protection.
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Diamonds were used for their strength:
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Interlocking bands started to be used.
Check out this interlocking ring from Bottega Veneta
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 is used 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.
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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.
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Traditionally the ring was in yellow gold. Today white gold and platinum are often used.
Check out my post on ring shapes