One of our favorite things about being wedding photographers is traveling! The changes in scenery, the options for dining and the potentially unique experiences call to our shared adventurous spirit. Furthermore, the hours between the wedding locations and our small-town home provide the perfect space for sharing thoughts and ideas.
Last weekend’s wedding, a mere 600 miles away, affording us plenty of time to chat. As we discussed plans for capturing the bride and groom’s important moments, I mentioned the bride requested a shot of her showing off her new bling. This is a fairly common request, but in this case, she asked that it be taken after the ceremony presumably to include both the wedding and engagement ring.
Phil wondered about the invention of the engagement ring and guessed that the whole two ring system was a diamond industry fabrication to boost profits. I whipped out my phone to do a little research.
It turns out that he was wrong.
The tradition of exchanging rings had actually taken several twists and turns over the course of history.
Since you are likely not sitting in the car with nothing to do for hours, I’ll just hit the highlights.
-Ancient Egyptians exchanged rings of braided reeds, the shape of the rings signifying eternal love.
-The tradition spread to Rome, where a bride-to-be was given two rings. An iron one for wearing at home and a gold one for wearing in public.
-During the Renaissance era, European men and women each wore one of a set of rings called gimmel rings that fit together like a puzzle. After the wedding, the woman got to wear both rings together.
-In 1477 Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy the first recorded diamond engagement ring. Other rich and noble guys thought this was a pretty good idea and followed suit.
-The use of diamonds in engagement rings became widespread in the 1800s with the discovery of diamond mines in South Africa.
-Most men in America still didn’t wear wedding bands until the Second World War when military men started wearing rings to remind themselves of their wives back home.
So, why does he buy a diamond ring? It's because good old Archduke Maximillian wanted to make a grand gesture. I'm not saying the multi-billion dollar diamond industry had nothing to do with it, but it's nice to know the tradition started authentically.
In case history doesn’t tickle your fancy, here are a couple of fun facts that I learned along the way.
-Synthetic diamonds of 2.5 Carats can be grown in a lab in about four days.
-Seventeen tons of gold are made into wedding rings each year.
-If you shine an ultraviolet light on a real diamond it will glow in the dark for a few seconds.
-According to Irish tradition, Leap Day is the one time when women can propose to men.
Isn’t learning fun!? Okay, I’m a bit of a nerd, but someday you might thank me. Now, you have some great conversation starters for the next time you are on a long flight or car ride with someone!