We often hear about various types of rings that a person can give to another to show romantic love.
The most popular is probably the wedding ring. There’s also the engagement ring, which is usually loaded with a precious stone, such as a diamond. But what about other rings? What do they mean? How did they originate? And on which finger of which hand do you wear it?
A pre-engagement ring is given to a romantic partner to symbolize a commitment to a monogamous relationship. This kind of ring, which is given any time before an engagement ring is given, is worn on the left ring finger, although some prefer to wear it either on the left middle finger or the right ring finger, to avoid confusing it with a real engagement ring. It is also known as a promise ring or friendship ring.
A friendship ring is also known as a pre-engagement ring. Traditionally though, a friendship ring is given when there is not yet a commitment to marry. A friendship ring can be worn on any finger.
A promise ring is another name for a pre-engagement ring. Unlike the friendship ring, however, a ring can be called a promise ring when there is an existing promise to marry. In the early days, when a man could not yet afford to get married, he would give a promise ring to his beloved until such time when he could already afford to marry her.
An engagement ring is a gift presented by a man to his prospective bride when he proposes, and is usually placed on the ring finger of the woman when she accepts the marriage proposal. It is traditionally placed on the left ring finger, as that finger contains the vena amoris or the “vein of love.” In other European countries, however, the tradition is to wear it on the right ring finger.
The Claddagh ring is a traditional ring in the Irish custom, given in friendship or as a wedding ring. The distinctive feature of this ring is the design of two hands (representing friendship) clasping a heart (representing love) and surmounted by a crown (symbolizing loyalty). The meaning of the ring depends on how it is worn. If worn on the right hand with the heart facing outward, it means the wearer is looking for love. Inwards, it means the wearer is in a relationship. On the left hand, heart outward, means the wearer is engaged. Inward on left hand, the wearer is married.
A gimmal ring is composed of two or three hoops that fit together to form one complete ring. The word gimmal closely resembles the Old French word which means twin. Centuries ago, gimmal rings are very fashionable and often used as engagement rings. The bethroted couple would wear one hoop each, with the third hoop (in the case of triple link gimmal rings) being held by a person who would witness the couple’s vows. On the wedding day, the bride would get all the three hoops together to form a beautiful ring. In England, during the Elizabethan period, a gimmal ring was also known as a joint ring.