Wearing a ring as a public pledge to honor the marriage contract began in Roman times. The earliest rings were made of iron, but gold rings were fashionable by medieval days. And gems were symbolic - red ruby was the color of the heart and blue sapphire the heavens. And the most coveted and powerful gem was the indestructible diamond.
As Mother Nature's hardest substance, diamonds represented invincible strength, which was fitting for the marriage contract. They were believed by the ancient Greeks to be splinters of fallen stars. In India they were thought to protect against evil. And ancient astronomers associated them with lasting love.
The diamond ring started as an engagement trend in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented one to his beloved, Mary of Burgundy. And the tradition of wearing the engagement ring and wedding band on the 4th finger of the left hand can be traced to the Egyptians. They believed the vein of love ran from the heart to the top of this finger.
And dual-ring ceremonies, where both the bride and the groom wear a ring, were introduced in the Greek Orthodox church in the 1300s. The custom didn't catch on in America until the beginning of World War II, when men were forced to leave their beloved behind. Since many couples knew they would be separated, the wedding band became a comfort to lonely soldiers and their brides on the homefront.
Just a little intelligence for National Weddings Month.