The Actual Meaning Behind the Wedding Engagement Ring

Published: 05th May 2010
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The Actual Meaning Behind the Wedding Engagement Ring

Of course everyone knows that when a man (or these days a woman) proposes, this is among the most significant moments of a couple's life. They prepare to take an oath to be with that person throughout their lives - what a wonderful and wonderful thing! What many of us don't know too much about is the significance of not only the marriage proposal, but the engagement ring itself, as well as the long history that accompanies it.

In the Americas, and in Western tradition in general, the wedding engagement rings are actually worn by a woman on her left hand ring finger. The reason behind this goes back to classical times, when the fourth finger on the left hand was recognized to contain the vena amoris, or "vein of love." Now, in the U.S. as well as in Canada, it is becoming more popular that the woman will propose to the man, whilst buying him an engagement or promise ring.

In some cultures, such as England, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil, it is common for the man and woman to wear engagement rings simultaneously. They typically come in matching plain bands featuring white, yellow, or red gold. The lady is generally given a diamond wedding ring, as opposed to the diamond engagement ring. In Poland, a woman's engagement ring is worn on the right hand. In Spain, the woman sometimes will buy her partner an engagement wristwatch after accepting a proposal.

The start of the wedding engagement ring dates back to the Fourth Lateran Council, which was presided over by Pope Innocent III (1215). Pope Innocent announced that there needs to be a longer waiting period between a betrothal and the marriage, which spawned the inception of ring giving. Typically plain rings of silver, gold, or iron were presented. Engagement rings with gems were representative of status and aristocracy. After time, diamonds were made available to the middle class as well.

The reason that diamonds are generally found in engagement rings traces back to the Middle Ages, and even Roman Times. The Romans revered the diamond simply because they believed it had supernatural powers. It was known to counteract poison, reduce the chances of insanity and dispel fear.

These days the diamond engagement ring is considered a standard. This has essentially to do with DeBeer's extensive marketing campaign "A Diamond is Forever" in the middle of the 20th century.

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