two wedding rings on a sparkly background

The History of Engagement & Wedding Rings

Posted by Grogan Jewelers By Lon on Jul 19, 2022 5:32:31 PM

The moment you put an engagement or wedding ring on your finger, you're becoming part of a long and beautiful tradition that has united human beings across time and space. These rings don't just act as a symbol of love between two people; they actually connect you to generations of lovers who came before, each pair adding their unique story to the history of engagement rings and wedding rings.

That's why it's fun--and informative!--to take a look back at the history of these rings and how your love story will be woven into a worldwide tapestry. Let's jump in!

The Ancient History of Engagement Rings & Wedding Rings

One could say that engagement and wedding rings have been part of human history almost as long as love itself. Here are just a few fun facts from the ancient history of this tradition:

The story starts with Neanderthals

Did you spend your childhood making little rings out of grass, flower stems, and other things you found in your backyard? If so, you were starting your own engagement ring and wedding ring story in much the same way the Neanderthals may have started the entire tradition. As it turns out, these small gifts from nature were perhaps the first rings exchanged between lovers.

Ancient Egyptians used more permanent materials

Although nothing beats a cute little grass ring, they don't necessarily fit into modern expectations of the tradition--not least because these rings don't represent the permanence of your love. The Ancient Egyptians remedied this problem by using sturdier materials like bone and ivory to make engagement and wedding rings. (They also may have started the trend of wearing these rings on the fourth finger of the left hand, likely believing there was a vein here that led directly to the heart.)

The Ancient Romans added a little romance

It's said that the Romans added a little romance to the wedding and engagement ring tradition by including "key" symbolism in their jewelry. The use of these images and designs was all about unlocking the other person's heart or holding the key to their love.

Engagement Rings & Wedding Rings in Modern Times

Let's be honest: While Neanderthals, Ancient Egyptians, and Ancient Romans certainly added stories and traditions to this long history, their trends are far from modern--and even farther from Alabama and Tennessee. That means it might feel a little difficult to connect with these stories in your hometown.

Luckily, wedding ring and engagement ring traditions haven't become stagnant. People a little closer to home are still creating trends like these:

Colored gems are becoming popular

Although clear diamonds are often a popular choice in jewelry, modern engagement rings and wedding rings are beginning to add a splash of color. Some people choose to use birthstones in ring design while others choose colors that represent their love (like vibrant blue or deep red).

More couples are opting for lab-grown alternatives

Diamond mining has a complex history, which is one reason lab-grown alternatives are growing more popular among today's couples. In many ways, these diamonds are created just for you, adding a level of personalization to your gem choice--not to mention the fact that lab-grown diamonds can be less expensive.

Eternity rings are adding to the story

First come the engagement rings, then wedding rings--and now, many couples are deciding to add eternity rings to the story. These rings are exchanged during an important life event in the lovers' lives, like a first anniversary, and represent eternal love.

Cultural backgrounds inform ring design

If you decide to custom-design your rings, you might want to put a little of your own history into each band. Different cultures have different traditions that their descendants are weaving into modern rings--like the materials used in Native American designs (including silver and turquoise) or the Jewish tradition of unbroken gold or silver.


Engagement rings and wedding rings aren't just symbols of love--they're a long-standing tradition that connects you to generations of lovers who came before.

If you're ready to take your place in this worldwide story, we're here to help. While we may not be in Neanderthal times, Ancient Egypt, or Ancient Rome, we are in Florence and Huntsville in Alabama or Franklin in Tennessee--so come visit Grogan Jewelers or contact us today to get started.