Engagement Rings

An engagement ring is worn by women who have accepted marriage proposals from their men. Men present this as a betrothal gift to a woman of their choice. Essentially, it indicates agreement by both parties to a marriage which can be set at any time. Although engagement rings are usually given by men to ladies, the practice of giving the same to a man by the lady herself is becoming common in the United States. Other countries such as Sweden, Finland, Germany, Norway and Denmark see both men and women wearing engagement rings. However in these countries, the men’s engagement ring also doubles as a wedding ring. The ladies usually receive a diamond wedding ring. Although rare, some men wear two rings, one as engagement ring and the other functions as a wedding ring.
In Germany, the engagement rings are frequently plain gold bands for both the men and the women. During the engagement period both parties wear the bands on their left hand. At the wedding ceremony, the same engagement rings are then used as wedding rings and to seal the marriage contract and the bands are moved from the right hand to the left.
Origin of Engagement Ring
Its introduction to society can be attributed to the Fourth Lateral Council by Pope Innocent III. This occurred in 1215 where the pope declared a waiting period from betrothal to marriage should be observed. With its practice, the believers saw it fit to use an engagement ring to indicate this change in status among practitioners and it has since gained acceptance across several cultures.
Why the Fourth Finger of the Left Hand
Most couples place their wedding rings on the ring finger of the left hands. This is the fourth finger next to the middle finger. In classic times, this finger is believed to house what is known as the vena amoris or vein of love. As such, most men and women find the practice of placing the rings on this finger both logical and romantic.
In other cultures, some people explain that the left hand is usually the weaker of the two hands so that placing the wedding ring on the left hand indicates additional strength one has gained from marrying couples such that “two become one.”
Breaking the Engagement
In some instances, the engagement fails so that the question now is “Should the lady keep the ring or return it?” There are several approaches to this. Should the man fail to make good his promise of marriage, the engagement ring can either be an unconditional gift where the lady gets to keep it regardless if the marriage occurred or not or traditional where the lady is under no obligation to return the ring as a sign of gentlemanliness. Should the cause of the break up be the lady, the man can demand the return of the engagement ring. But again the man has the option to let the lady keep it.
Engagement rings have withstood the test of time and many more couples are sure to find ways of showing their promise during each different stage of their relationship.
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