WEDDING RING - ENGAGEMENT RING - ETERNITY RING - JEWISH MARRIAGE RING
A finger ring of no generally accepted form that is given by a man to his fiancee as a token of marriage engagement, in the manner of the earlier betrothal ring, and indistinguishable in form or style.
In recent years such rings have normally been set with a gemstone, usually a diamond (or any stone other than the ill-reputed opal), as a solitaire, of varying sizes, cuts, styles, and cost, but in the 19th century some were set with a pearl. In the same century the custom arose in England of separate engagement ring and wedding ring, and in very recent years such rings have sometimes been made ‘en suite’ as a matching pair of similar style. See posy ring.
(1) A single gemstone (usually a diamond) or sometimes a symmetrical pearl set alone as the sole ornament for a piece of jewelry, usually a finger ring, but sometimes a pendant. The diamond solitaire became popular from c. 1880 when high-quality stones became more available, and is still favored, especially for an engagement ring.
(2) A finger ring set with such a stone.
A finger ring that is given upon marriage (usually as a part of the wedding ceremony) by a man to the bride, and sometimes also by her to the groom. In Roman days and the Middle Ages the wedding ring was indistinguishable from a betrothal ring or an engagement ring, but since the 16th century it has become customary to use a simple gold (or recently platinum or palladium) band, albeit in recent years some have been engraved on the outside or inside with a sentimental inscription or names, or have been decorated with faceting, diamond milling, or several varicolored metals, or occasionally (for the bride) set with gemstones, usually a band of small diamonds.
A recent development is a matching engagement ring and wedding ring. A wedding ring has conventionally been placed since Roman days on the left hand, except for a short interval in the Middle Ages when it was placed on the right hand.
A type of finger ring in the form of a circular band set with a continuous row of gemstones (usually diamonds) of the same size and cut. It is a type of modern wedding ring set with encircling gemstones.
When the gemstones extend only on half of the shank, it is called a 'halfeternity ring'. The stones are secured in a channel setting or in adjacent single-stone collet settings. Modern examples of eternity rings are usually made of platinum, and sometimes depart from the traditional form by having two or three adjacent rows of stones, each row of different colored gemstones, and sometimes having the two outer rows extend only halfway around the hoop.
The history of the eternity ring extends back into antiquity, an example being known from Ur 4,000 years ago. In the Elizabethan period some examples were made in the form of an encircling snake swallowing its tail. It is sometimes called an 'alliance ring’.
Jewish marriage ring.
A type of finger ring used at a Jewish wedding ceremony on the Continent, by being placed by the groom on the middle finger of the bride's right hand, and not intended to be worn thereafter but preserved by the family or the congregation.
The early examples, made in Venice in the 16th century, have a wide band and mounted on the bezel a model of a building with a cupola or high roof, said to represent a synagogue or a symbol of the marital home. Later they were decorated with filigree and granulated gold, and some with enamelling but not gemstones.
Some examples have a high-gabled roof and pierced windows, occasionally with a movable weathervane at the peak. Hidden within the bezel or inscribed inside the band are the Hebrew words Mazal Tov (Good Luck) or the Hebrew initials of these words. Some rings also depict on the hoop biblical scenes or symbols.
The rings were usually made of gold, but later ones are of silver or gilded metal. Known examples are from Germany or Venice from the 16th and 17th centuries, but earlier ones are said to have existed. A few such rings were made as a lockety, with the building on the bezel hinged to cover a space for concealing some token.
In England there is no record of such rings being used, but instead a plain hoop of gold (or other metal) without a gemstone but with a Hebrew inscription.
Steeple ring is a type of finger ring having on the bezel a representation of a tall Gothic building with a cross on its steeple. Such a ring, made in Germany, is comparable to a type of Jewish marriage ring.