Ancient History Of The Engagement Ring

The custom of giving custom made engagement rings dates as far back as Ancient Rome, although some sources of uncertain veracity attribute the practice as far back as Ancient Greece or even Ancient Egypt. In Ancient Rome, a man would give an engagement ring to his betrothed. It was worn on the ring finger of the left hand as this is the site of the vena amoris, a vein that was believed by the ancient Romans to lead straight to the heart. By the second century before the common era, it had become the usual practice for a man to give his fiancée two engagement rings: one made of iron, which would be intended for wearing around the house, and a gold engagement ring to wear in public. Similarly, ancient Roman men would generally have two sets of rings: gold rings to wear in public, and iron rings to wear at home. This custom lasted for several hundred years. Ancient Roman men would not wear an engagement ring, however. Rather, the rings that an Ancient Roman man (and it was not unheard of for as many as ten to be worn) would be usually purchased by himself, unless they were a ring of office that came with a particular governmental position.
Following the fall of Rome, the engagement ring became increasingly rare, especially given that the economic infrastructure to produce rings fell out of use and it became rare for the average person to have a sufficient income to afford a ring, in any case. While some wealthy men may have given engagement rings, they were not particularly known or expected. While a marriage in Ancient Rome was already far less sentimental than contemporary or even early modern conceptions of a marriage, in the early mediaeval period marriage was reduced almost entirely to its economic aspects as a transaction between families, which meant that as an expression of sentiment (as opposed to part of a bride price), a princess cut halo engagement ring would have been entirely superfluous.
Despite this, the Lex Visigothorum of the late eighth century made mention of the practice of giving an engagement ring, providing that once a ring had been gifted by a man to his fiancée, he was irrevocably bound to marry her, even if no marriage or engagement contract had been undertaken in writing. As engagement rings began to emerge as a common social custom once again, the designs of the rings remained plain. Even today, in some countries it is customary for rings to take different styles depending on the norms that developed during this period. For example, in many of the Nordic countries, such as Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, it is usual for an engagement ring to be a plain band rather than more elaborate styles such as halo engagement rings, with the wedding ring being the ornate ring in those places.