Wedding bands incorporate the history of betrothal and poesy rings which were their earliest forms. The Romans began wearing betrothal rings in the 4th Century as an acknowledgement of the contract of betrothal between two people. They were made from various metals with an iron ring often worn at home while a more lavish gold band was worn outside of the home in a display of wealth. These rings were worn on the fourth finger of the left hand as they believed there was a vein in this finger connected directly to the heart.
While these bands were used to denote a betrothal, and would eventually evolve into engagement rings, the attraction of a plain gold band to signify love continued throughout history to modern day. Posey rings were given out of love and friendship and were engraved with poems/phrases, such as “you have my heart” in French or Latin. These rings were popular from the 16th to the 20th century.
Bands of some form have been connected to engagement and marriage since the roman period. They signify a contract but also love, friendship and fidelity just like modern wedding bands do. During the 19th century bands begun being worn either side of an engagement ring and were known as keeper rings, used to keep the engagement ring from sliding off. This is one of the first times bands were worn along with an engagement ring.
Modern wedding bands still hold the sentimental significance of their previous incarnations but also serve a decorative function. Bands these days can vary in style and size with design ranging from a plain gold band through to diamond bands designed to fit around an engagement ring to complement/enhance its design.
GIA – Engagement Rings Through Ages
Lang Antiques – Rings Ancient to Neoclassical