ENGAGEMENT RINGS: TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD
You’ve found her at last. You’ve made sure she’s the one. You don’t want to lose her. It’s time for action, my friend. Time to take that big step and make her your own with an engagement ring. But then you stop to ask yourself: Do I have to do it the traditional way? Around the world there are many different customs surrounding the betrothal ceremonies. There’s no law that you have to do it a particular way. You may decide to follow the traditions of your or your fiancée’s ancestry. Or you may simply choose to follow the method that seems the most fun or appropriate for you. The most important thing to remember: you’ll only do this once. So be sure that the ring you give, and the way you give it, represents you and your love.
Western tradition requires that the engagement rings are to be worn by a lady on her left hand ring finger to indicate that she is engaged to be married. However, in present day usage, the engagement ring is given to a woman by a man at the time of proposing marriage and acceptance of which would lead to her wearing the engagement ring, which is presented as a betrothal gift and signifies the formal acceptance to marry in the future.
Other traditions have also followed similar conventions dating back to the classical period when the engagement ring was worn on the fourth finger of the left hand and was sometimes referred to as vena amoris, the vein of love.
Presently, in the United States, it is becoming more common, even though it is still quite rare, for a woman to present her man with an engagement ring, when she is getting engaged. Whereas in Europe, more particularly Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Germany it is common for both partners to wear rings, though in these lands the engagement ring may also double for a wedding ring.
In Germany the engagement rings may be made from gold or platinum and both partners wear them on the left hand until the time of wedding when they shift the ring to the right hand to signify marriage.
In most Western societies the average cost of engagement rings is thought to be approximately two months salary, which is different to the early 21st century norm of one month’s wage and even though these figures have been obtained from the jewelry industry, they are thought to be accurate pointers, in this regard.
The Ring Itself
The designs and materials used for engagement rings have changed considerably, over the years and are generally, a precious band mounted with a diamond or a gem. The present day fashions lean towards gold, platinum or silver having a single diamond, and, only recently, thanks to heavy doses of advertising, has the diamond ring caught the imagination of people, in Western cultures, especially. Sometimes, a man may deliberately buy his woman an expensive engagement ring, to signify the permanency of the relationship.
When a woman refuses an engagement ring it means she is not interested in getting married to the person offering it. In the United States, the engagement ring is considered as being a conditional gift, according to the legal rules of property and is an exception to the rule that gifts cannot be revoked if given properly. And, women who take the rings and then refuse to marry their men are considered to be grasping and greedy, even though the intention behind giving the ring made it a gift and so entitled the woman to hold on to it, in spite of refusing marriage, later on.
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