The Meaning Behind Wedding Rings

wedding rings

Wedding rings are more than just shiny pieces of jewelry—there’s deep symbolism and layers that go into those rings, which serve as a reminder of the promises we make to each other and to our partners. And while there are a lot of factors that go into choosing the right ring, many of those choices come down to personal preference and what’s meaningful for the couple. We asked several experts—from designers to retailers to jewelry enthusiasts and collectors—to weigh in on their favorite options and sage advice for finding the perfect wedding ring.

The history of the wedding ring goes back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, where relics show that men and women exchanged betrothal rings made of leather, bone or woven reeds as a symbol of love and commitment. As the years went by, these adornments grew in popularity and evolved into rings made of precious metals like gold and silver, with some embellishments. Among the most popular were engravings of initials, symbols and words of affection, and gemstones with meanings of their own. Today, couples still engrave their rings to honor their memories and add unique touches that will carry their story with them for the rest of their lives.

Some people choose to have temporary wedding rings that they take off once the ceremony is over, and some people simply don’t wear a ring at all (whether it’s because of modesty or for sports or environmental reasons). If you’re not a person who feels the need to glamorize your marital status with a piece of jewelry, don’t feel the need to be pressured into wearing one. Sidestep this public pressure with grace—there are far better ways to find out if someone is married than asking them about their ring!

If you do want to wear a ring, it’s customary to put on the ring finger of your left hand in most countries. It’s also common to wear an engagement ring on your left hand before marriage and then switch to the wedding ring once you’re committed.

While there are many different styles and designs of wedding rings, they’re typically all circular in shape because that symbolizes eternity and never-ending love. It’s not uncommon for men’s tungsten wedding bands and other types of rings to have a matte finish, which is a sleek and polished look that’s favored by many.

Gold is the most popular metal used to craft wedding rings, and its purity can be measured in carats. 24-carat gold is the highest quality, while 18-carat is the most common (75% pure). More recently, rings are being crafted from metals like titanium, zirconium and tungsten, which have similar durability to platinum but are much cheaper. You can also find metals that have been alloyed with other materials for enhanced properties, such as nickel and iron for increased hardness. All of these options are available in a variety of colors, from yellow to white to rose gold.