In a recent Jewelry Trends post, on the Ornament Studio Facebook page, we considered wedding bands.
Do wedding bands have to match? Absolutely not. Getting married is a very personal matter. While you share the experience with family and friends, your own sense of your connection with your spouse is between the two of you. For some people, matching wedding bands represent their matching hearts. For others, a unique design feels right. Like ancient hieroglyphs, it tells the story of a specific moment in time and only those who know the language of that moment can read the story. Different wedding bands, then, represent the same story told from two different perspectives.
For this matter, are wedding bands the only suitable adornments for marriage?
As we’ve discussed previously, wedding bands are worn on the fourth finger because this particular digit is believed to house a vein that travels straight to the heart. The notion is as ancient as the Romans, who themselves used wedding bands given by a man to a woman to mark ownership. True Romance would officially appear centuries later!
Wedding bands were made popular, in part, at a time when the hands revealed much about a person’s social standing. To get situated, let’s think back to the Middle Ages in Europe, when the distinctions between social classes was an ever present matter.
The practice of allowing nails to grow long occurs around the same period. In short (no pun intended), due to their occupation, servants typically had short nails, whereas their masters, including men, had the luxury of allowing long, elegant nails to emerge from the tips of their fingers. Long nails instantly revealed that the person who owned the attached hands was a master of others and of his or her own destiny; someone to mingle with for sure if you were somebody.
People who had the good fortune of belonging to the ruling class or high society adorned their hands with much jewelry, some of it purely decorative and some of it specifically identifying status or function, such as the rings worn by kings, queens, knights and the clergy.
A wedding band, it turns out, says a lot about one’s standing. In short, again, tradition took care of the rest of the story. Which leads us to the next question: Can other objects rightfully signify the union of two lovers who choose to pledge a lifetime of companionship to each other? Yes, of course, and here are two examples.
- Earrings – Some couples choose to exchange earrings bearing their respective birthstones. Thus, one partner wears the other’s birthstone and vice versa.
- Bracelets – Custom made bracelets can depict a scenery or bear a gem of significance. It is the exchange of the bracelets, in the course of the wedding ceremony, that lends the final meaning.
At this time, in this culture, we no longer wear wedding bands to mark ownership and we do not necessarily wear jewelry to mark status. Rather, we seek to highlight individuality and uniqueness. In the context of a matrimonial contract, then, the chosen jewelry truly is a symbol that seals a mutually agreeable fate.