Montreal Daily Star, 27 January 1900, page 9
Custom of Wearing Rings
Their ancient popularity as great as the present day
It is doubtful whether the origin of the custom of wearing a ring as a symbol of an engagement or marriage has ever been established beyond dispute. It is certain, however, that the custom is an ancient one, for in the Bible may be found several references to rings, and the Christians used the ring as a symbol of marriage in 800.
Regarding the custom of wearing the wedding ring on the most useless finger of the left hand- the third finger- the explanation has been made that the helplessness of that finger is a protection to the ring, as on the weakest finger it is preserved from rough usage. Another reason given is that on the third finger there is a vein leading from the heart, hence the same excuse as that given for shaking hands with the left hand, “nearer the heart.”
In olden times, kings and others in authority wore on the ring a seal or image that indicated power, and in the time of Moses the priests wore rings as symbols of office. In theBritishMuseumquaint rings, made of porcelain, which one adorned the fingers of the poorer classes inEgypt, may be seen.
Among the Hebrews the ring is an important factor in the marriage ceremony, and inGermanythe husband and wife exchange wedding rings. The husband is expected to wear his marriage ring continuously.
QueenVictoriapossesses many rings, but three of these have a special value, in view of the history connected with them. One is her wedding ring- a narrow gold band. The second is her betrothal ring, a snake made of emeralds, and the third is a diamond ring given to her byPrince Albertwhen she was a young girl.
Queen Elizabeth, who was noted for her love of jeweler, wore many rings. The Emperor of Germany is another royal personage who has displayed a liking for rings. It is said that on all important occasions the Kaiser will be seen to wear on his left hand a massive gold ring set with a dark stone. The ring is credited with being an heirloom of the Hohenzollern family, and came into the possession of Margraf of Ulrich way back in the thirteenth century. After a series of adventures and mishaps the ring became the property of the Kaiser, who, although not a superstitious man, is never seen without the ring.
Rings have been fashioned from every material of sufficient strength to be put to such use, including gold, silver, steel, brass, iron, bronze, ivory, jet, earthenware and wire.
Curious instances have been cited where makeshift substitutes for the conventional wedding ring have been utilized during the marriage ceremony. One such instance occurred some time ago in a nearby town, when the ring was missing. Nothing better being available as a substitute, a curtain ring was used, and on still another occasion the ring handle of the church key was utilized. A couple once used in such as emergency a ring formed from the outer edge of a coin, and which had been carried by some one present as a curiosity.
A gallant “best man” came to the rescue at a recent wedding, when the ring was not forthcoming at the right time. He drew from his tie the slender stick pin that had been adorning it, and, bending the wire, into ring shape, handed the improvised wedding ring to the distracted groom.
A horseshoe nail bent to the shape of a ring is said to bring a great deal of luck to its owner, and a lead cramp ring was worn six centuries ago.
Teeth were at one time fashionable for adorning rings.