The first recorded exchange of ring at a marriage was in Egypt and was seen as an earthly
image of eternal, never-ending love. For the Romans it was a seal of legal commitment to
marry from which the girl was unable to remove herself once she had accepted the ring.
From this point onwards she was no longer free. In early Roman tradition the ring would be
made of iron to denote strength but gradually gold and silver took over because of their
beauty and because they do not rust. Nowadays rings are made of yellow gold, white gold,
silver or even platinum and some will even be embellished with stones.
Most of us wear our wedding band on the third finger of our left hand but why? In ancient
Egypt and in Rome it was believed that a vein ran from this finger directly to the heart so
linking it with love. However this practice, in medieval times, continued but for a different
reason. During a religious wedding ceremony the groom would place the ring on the bride's
left thumb, index and middle finger in turn and saying "in the name of the father, son and
The ring was then placed fully on the next finger, the third. This was then made
formal with the writing of the book of common prayer where the words and rituals of
marriage were written down. Up until the twentieth century it was mainly women that wore
wedding bands but nowadays many men want to show their love and commitment by
wearing a wedding ring as well.