Out of all the accessories people wear, rings most commonly serve as more than an adornment. For a lot of people, wearing a ring shows a deeper symbolic meaning. It can mean they are in a committed relationship or are married. It can show your allegiance to your alma mater. It can even show that you’ve won a Super Bowl. But generally, rings most often serve as a symbol of love, commitment, affection and loyalty between lovers and friends. There is a ring for every stage of relationships, and here they are:
1. Promise rings
A promise ring is kind of a warm-up to an engagement ring. It’s usually given as a symbol of promise between young couples to stay devoted and monogamous to one another. It can say that the couple is more than just dating, that they are saying to each other “we’ll be engaged someday.” However, the definition of the promise ring varies between couples, but it’s widely used as a symbol of commitment.
The tradition of giving of promise rings is kind of similar to the mid-century tradition when boys give their high school sweethearts their class ring or pin. It says, while they are not yet ready or wanting to commit to marriage, they commit themselves to the other person.
Though it’s not like an engagement ring, promise rings should not be treated lightly. These are typically given after a couple has been dating for a significant amount of time, perhaps a year or more, to show each other how serious they are in a relationship.
In terms of style, anything can go with a promise ring. If you intend to propose someday, a promise ring must have a different style that will not compete with an engagement ring. Most promise rings include features like entwined designs and hearts. Eternity rings, Claddagh rings and rings with mosaic or composite of stones are also commonly used. In terms of price, there’s also no standard on how much it should cost. Most people buying promise rings are young and don’t yet have the financial means to splurge on an expensive ring.
2. Engagement ring
This kind of ring is traditionally given as a proposal by a man to a woman he intends to marry. This ring seals the deal in a romantic relationship, and announces to the world that a wedding is about to happen. Because of that, it is often given after a couple has been going steady for a significant period of time, once they are sure with each other that they want to get married with one another. During a proposal, the focus is on the ring and on the romantic, “on-bended-knees” moment. Engagement rings are mostly worn by women, but for some men and women wear matching rings. It is customarily worn on the left ring finger, but traditions differ all over the world.
The tradition of giving engagement rings date back to the ancient Egyptians. They believed that a circle is a symbol of eternity, so wedded couples exchanged rings made of braided reeds. The first recorded use of diamond engagement ring was in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy. Back then, it was a glamorous act between two royalties.
But after large diamond mines were discovered in South Africa during the 1880s, the diamond became a popular material of choice for engagement rings, and men were encouraged to spend months’ worth of salary on the stone. Since the 1940s until today, diamonds are the leading option for engagement rings. It is because diamonds are the hardest and strongest mineral on earth that is almost indestructible, which symbolizes forever. However, it doesn’t always have to be diamonds – other gemstones like sapphires are acceptable as well.
Engagement rings are pricier than promise rings. In the United States, the average cost of engagement ring is $4,000.
3. Wedding ring
Wedding rings are bands worn by married couples, which are given to each other during a wedding ceremony. It is a sign of love, commitment and bonding between a married couple. For some couples, wedding rings are in the form of matching solid bands to symbolize unity, but for some, the bride’s ring has stones while the groom’s ring is solid.
During the ceremony, the bride’s engagement ring is transferred to the right ring finger, to give way for the wedding ring that is to be placed on the left ring finger. The wedding ring is placed there because the left hand ring finger has the vein that runs directly to the heart, which was called Vena amoris. Many spouses never remove their wedding rings, causing a mark on the skin that is visible when the ring is removed. Some even brides solder their engagement and wedding rings together.
The exchanging of rings is one of the oldest traditions in marriage. During ancient times, the groom would bind the bride’s ankles and wrists with braided grass to bring her spirit under his control. Once the wedding ceremony is finished, the groom would remove the rope to tie it to one of her fingers. From grass, it evolved to rope, leather and finally a metal ring.
Before the World War II in America, rings were only worn by women because men were recognized as the dominant sex. During the war, men started to wear rings as well to show their commitment to their wives while they are away. That practice continues until today.
4. Anniversary ring
A lot of couples today, married or dating, love to celebrate their milestone anniversaries with an anniversary ring. In dating couples, a man usually buys a couple ring to celebrate their anniversary, but it must be clarified that it’s not yet an engagement ring (unless, of course, if the guy plans on proposing during an anniversary). In married couples, this include the 1-year, 5-year, 10-year, 15-year, 25-year anniversaries and so on. It doesn’t mean you have to give one during every one of these milestones – the year you would like to celebrate with a ring depends on the two of you. Some husbands surprise their wife with a ring on an “off” anniversary, like the fourth or eleventh, for example.
The anniversary ring is steadily replacing the more traditional anniversary gifts, such as paper for the 1st year, wood for the 5th year, diamonds for the 10th year, pearls for the 30th, gold for the 50th, and so on. Why wait for that long to give your loved one a gold ring, right? This is why the material for the ring you choose depends on you. You may choose to give a gold ring for your 1st anniversary, sapphire for your 5th, and diamonds on your 10th. Eternity bands that feature diamonds or other precious stones are also a popular choice for anniversaries. You may also choose a ring that features the same number of stone accents as the years you’ve been married.
5. Friendship ring
If you’re a girl and you had BFF’s throughout the years, probably you’ve worn a friendship ring or two. Friendship rings and bracelets are popular among kids and teenagers who would like to celebrate their loyalty and friendship with their gal pal/s. It can be worn by two friends or a group of solid friends. Since children and teenagers don’t have the means, most friendship rings worn by them are made of fancy inexpensive materials, like beads or braided nylon in colors of their choice. For some who can afford a bit, they choose cheap silver or gold ring that is custom-made to their chosen design.
One traditional friendship ring that is given among friends is the Claddagh ring. It’s a traditional Irish ring that features two hands, a heart and a crown, which represents friendship, love and loyalty, respectively. The design originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh in Galway. While the rings originally celebrate Irish traditions, the beautiful and classic design makes it fabulous all around the world.