We’re fast approaching Valentine’s Day and the high street has been bathed in swathes of red and a sprinkling of love hearts! Jewellery is one of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts, but how long have the ideas of love and jewellery been so strongly linked?
Giving jewellery on Valentine’s Day has only been de rigueur since the 1980s. Before that, gifts of cards, chocolate and flowers were more traditional. However, jewellery and love go back a lot further than that!
Jewellery has played a vital role in the marriage ceremony since Ancient Egyptian times. As long ago as 3,000 years ago, couples are known to have exchanged rings of braided hemp or reeds. These early wedding rings were typically worn only by the bride. The Egyptians viewed the circle as a symbol of eternity, and so a ring was believed to signify the never-ending love between a married couple.
As for how we wear wedding rings, we have the Romans to thank for that. Historically this was because it was believed that a special vein called the Vena Amoris ran through the left ring finger and connected straight to the heart. (All together now, awww!)
It may not surprise you that the practise of giving rings to symbolise love has always been in style. Engagement rings were originally made popular in Roman times, though later on they were considered a luxury item and mainly limited to the very rich. Interestingly, during the rule of the Roman Empire many brides-to-be would have been given two rings: one made of gold to wear in public and one made of iron to wear at home!
Jewellery has long been a traditional wedding anniversary gift. This is true as far back as the Roman Empire where husbands were expected to crown their wives with a silver wreath on their twenty-fifth anniversary and a gold one on their fiftieth! This custom developed into a list of traditional wedding gifts. Wives in the UK could expect to receive silver jewellery on their twenty fifth wedding anniversary, rubies on their fortieth and gold on their fiftieth. If they held on for a few more years they could even expect to receive diamonds on their sixtieth anniversary.