Symbolism of the Engagement Ring
" Wearing a ring signals a major choice to you and the World. "You have decided to get hitched - kind of. However, you're not sure how people go about it these days. After all, few people get married in the classic way any more. So how does one get started with this quaint getting married thing? For a start, you have to ask the question. It doesn't matter who does the asking, but it is nice to have a special moment when the other person confirms that, not only are you not crazy to want permanence, but they want it too, and with you. The next step is the ring. Yes, that source of unutterable angst to men and women. Women have been taught to feel that the size of the rock expresses their "worth," and men, that whether they can afford it or not, they need to splurge on major bling for their girl. What is it really all about, then?
Why wear one?
What is the deal with rings, and why do we care so much? For one, wearing a ring signals a major choice, both to you and to the world at large. When you make the decision to become engaged and wear a ring, you are telling the world of your intentions. Chances are, when women were not as emancipated as they are today, wearing an engagement ring was a way of pressuring their fiance to keep his promise. Now, it is a sign to the world that one is committed to building a life with another person, and a sign to your partner that you are secure and certain enough of wanting to be with him or her to let the world know.
Does that sound primitive? Well, this is still better than the other two theories that authors of books on engagement rings do not tell you. First, some people have traced the exchange and wearing of rings to a medieval custom of rings sealing a sale, such as the sale by a father of his daughter to another man. Other cynics see the reflection of a slave's shackles in an engagement ring. Suffice it to say, the real symbolism of these pieces of shared jewelry is somewhere between the cynics and the de Beers commercials.
The circle of life
In most cultures, circles represent an idea of perfection and eternity. They have no sharp edges, no beginning, and no end. What better way of proclaiming your love and signaling your lifetime commitment to another person than with a circle - it suggests wholeness and renewal. In intending to join our two lives, your engagement ring says, we create a more vibrant single life. Like the sun, the moon, and the planets, your life together and love for each other is alive and glowing for all eternity.
In a loving vein
The ancient Egyptians and Romans had some exciting reasons to fashion early rings from reeds and grasses. In addition to the sacred geometry of the circle, they also believed that there was a vital connection between the fourth finger and the heart. They might not have known too much about the circulatory system, but there remains something charming about their idea that from the ring finger to the heart there runs a special vein, the vena amoris, or love vein. Wearing a ring on this finger meant that they strengthened and heightened the love they felt for their betrothed.
Like with the very idea of wearing a ring, the idea of buying a diamond ring is also totally confused. We veer between the extremes of women who absolutely require a large diamond to signify their intention to marry, and men who think the whole thing is a diamond industry conspiracy. There are reasons that the diamond holds so much sway, but there are many reasons to buy other stones too. The diamond holds a special place in engagement and wedding jewelry because of its extraordinary hardness. No-this is not because it becomes a vital weapon during disagreements! People like the symbolism of wearing a virtually indestructible stone to signify their love. The clarity and glitter of diamonds also suggests openness, honesty, and joy.
The thought counts If you cannot afford a diamond ring, or you are simply not very fond of diamonds, then there are plenty of other options. Always popular, and not just with people of Irish descent, are Celtic Claddagh rings. They have been around for centuries, and show two crowned hands clasped over a heart. The heart symbolizes love, but the hands are equally important, acknowledging that all love and engagements begin with friendship, while the crown stands for an all-encompassing, life-long loyalty. Some people like the symbolism of snakes, a traditional European symbol for good luck; while others have their own personal symbols drawn from shared experiences and values.
If you want stones in your engagement ring, birthstones are a brilliant way to keep your individuality even as you celebrate your couplehood. There is also a variety of red, blue, and green stones; from semi-precious garnets, turquoise, and citrines, to rubies, sapphires and emeralds, which can all do the trick. Red is a symbol for life, love, and passion, while blue suggests purity and constancy, and green signals fidelity and fertility. What matters most is that you think about what the symbolism of the ring means to you, rather than just doing what your friends or family suggest.