Manicures at the ready, as ‘engagement season’ is officially upon us! That’s right, it’s not just the twinkling fairy-lit streets and glistening frost that will be providing the sparkle over the coming weeks. Every year, between the 1st December and Valentine’s Day, a whopping forty percent of couples will say YES to getting married, with Christmas Day taking the top spot for proposals.
While the majority of us are au fait with the symbolism behind engagement/wedding rings where the unbroken circle serves to represent unending, infinite love, there’s a whole lot more history going on behind these circular sensations than one might imagine. The evolutionary story of wedding rings differs slightly from country to country, but the origin of the ‘ring of love’ remains the same and goes as far back as the ancient Egyptians.
Almost 5000 years ago, the Egyptians weren’t simply hanging around the desert creating pens, paper and pyramids, they also invented the concept of wearing a wedding ring. These ancient rings of love were made of woven reeds or leather and were worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was thought that the Vena Amoris (the vein of love) ran directly from the ring finger to the heart. The Egyptians believed that the ring represented eternal love with the hollow signifying a gateway to the couple’s unexplored life ahead.
Fast-forward a couple of thousand years and the ancient Romans advanced the concept slightly by replacing the fragile reed bands with metals of gold and iron, symbolising strength and permanence. It was during this era that the engagement ring made its debut and betrothed brides-to-be would wear a ring made exclusively of gold, which would be swapped with an iron wedding ring on the day of their union.
Centuries later, the first diamond engagement ring on record was given to Mary of Burgundy when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to her in 1477 with a dazzling diamond; however, the diamond engagement ring didn’t appear on the fingers of mere mortals until 1948 when the De Beers’ launched their ‘A Diamond is Forever’ campaign, inspiring feverish excitement in loved-up ladies the world over. Today, eighty percent of couples mark their engagement with a diamond ring and no wonder, diamonds are BLINGking fabulous as they’re not only timeless and durable, they’re also incredibly sparkly!
That said, what if you’re the kind of lady or gent who wants to wear something a little different on your Vena Amoris? Well you’re not alone as more and more couples are favouring unique styles with non-traditional stones on both their engagement and wedding bands. Team Fuze have noticed that couples are choosing rings based on their own identity, journey and history. Grandmother’s or mother’s engagement rings are re-emerging either in their original or in a modernised form and rings are being created by the hands of lovers due to the rise of jewellers offering ‘make your own wedding ring’ classes.
But something else is happening. Being a Scottish Celebrant team, we love it when elements of Scotland drift their way into wedding and engagement rings so we’ve compiled a list of four of our favourite jewellers who bring a nugget of nation into their work. So whether you’re after a diamond dazzler or a morganite masterpiece, check out the websites below for some seriously Scottish ringspiration…
Based in Fife, Sally Grant creates bespoke engagement and wedding rings by photo-etching the complexity of patterns and structures found in nature onto her jewellery. The technique of photo-etching allows her to translate images into textural designs on precious metal. Textural gemstone rings form a large part of her work and each gemstone is unique and selected to compliment the pattern of the ring ensuring no two pieces are the same.
Geologist turned jeweller, Alison Moore, designs and hand finishes distinctive engagement and wedding rings out of precious metal and gemstone from her studio in Orkney. Alison’s work reflect her own personal style – understated, timeless and utterly contemporary. Her work has clean lines with textured, natural and tactile finishes where the landscapes and scenery of Orkney plays a huge part.
Hannah Louise Lamb is based near Edinburgh and her Coastline Collection focuses on the coastlines of both Scotland and further afield. The skills Hannah employs in making her jewellery are rooted in traditional fabrication techniques and quality workmanship, focusing specifically on intricate hand-piercing and cut-outs.
Genna Delaney’s mantra “you are unique, your jewellery should be too” is evident in her award winning engagement and wedding rings, where her bespoke, cutting edge jewellery is inspired by the Scottish landscape. Each piece of artisan jewellery is individually handmade by Genna in her studio in Dundee.
Note: The featured photograph is the first known wedding ring in the world!!
Cover photograph by Lynne Kennedy