It All Began in Ancient Egypt
While the exact origin is not known, historians believe the ancient Egyptians started the custom of wearing a wedding ring. Archaeological findings suggest that the practice started at this time. The wearing of rings were depicted in papyrus scrolls, where Ancients exchanged braided-type rings made from hemp or reeds. The symbology of the ring itself conveyed a continual circle of love, with the ring finger on the left hand linked to the vein to the heart.
During Roman times, the groom gave a ring to his betrothed made of iron. However, unlike the Egyptians, who viewed rings as symbolic representations of love, the Romans looked at rings as representations of possession – the wife considered a possession of the husband.
Among ancient Middle Eastern couples, wedding rings were presented in the form of a puzzle ring. The husband gave his wife this kind of ring to depict faithfulness. When worn properly, the ring, which was made up of several rings, came together into one cohesive band. Therefore, the ring could not be taken off by the woman lest she reveal that she had been unfaithful.
A gimmel ring was worn quite frequently in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. Made up of two metal bands that interlocked, each of the bands was worn by the woman and the man before the marriage ceremony. At the reading of the nuptials, the man would give the woman his ring, and she would wear the interlocked ring after she was married.
Thimbles were given to a bride by her groom during the Colonial period. Because the Puritans in early America thought jewelry was impractical, the thimble was given as a symbol of love during the marriage ceremony. Brides removed the top of the thimble and made it into a band.