History of Wedding Traditions

Gemstones and Gemology Final Project


Jennifer Willard


This webpage project was created for a gemstones and gemology course in the spring 2004 semester at Emporia State University. The assignment was to learn webpage creation, as well as present a summary of our knowledge regarding:

Valuable Properties and Uses

Table of Contents

Image taken from http://www.weddingchannel.com/


Pearls are widely known as the birthstone for June. According to Pearl Reef.com, the history of pearls is quite fascinating. Pearls symbolize purity and innocence, making them cherished wedding gifts. Pearls were also known as The Queen of Gems. Pearls were highly prized and considered to be a symbol of wealth. In fact Julius Caesar allowed only the rulers of Rome to wear them in first century B.C.

Although some cultures cherish pearls on the wedding day, others do not. According to Mexican traditions, pearls hold the superstition called "tears of pearls" and if worn on the wedding day they symbolize the "tears she will cry in her marriage" (Wedding Traditions).

Image taken from

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The Diamond Engagement Ring

Diamonds come in many different colors such as colorless (white), yellow, brown, green, blue, red, orange, and black (Schumann, 1997, p. 70). Although some of these colors are very rare, they are still found in some areas of the world. Traditionally in the United States, the colorless, or white, diamond is used for the engagement ring.

Historical records show that the tradition of giving a diamond ring as an intent to marry was started by Archduke Maximillian of Hamburg in 1477, when he gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond betrothal ring (History of the Engagement Ring, 2002-2003). Although this tradition was started long ago, it is "estimated that 78% of engagement rings sold every year are diamonds" (History of the Engagement Ring, 2002-2003). Traditional placement of wearing the engagement ring on the fourth finger of the left hand was started many centuries ago. It was believed that "a special vein ran from that finger direct to the heart, and it was therefore the most suitable finger to bear a symbol of love" (Wedding Traditions).

However, wearing the ring on the left hand does not happen everywhere. for a time, wealthy Elizabethans wore large, elaborate wedding rings on their thumbs! Then in the eighteenth century, Roman Catholics wore their rings on the right hand. Still today, most European women follow this tradition. "Medieval bridegrooms placed the ring on three of the bride's fingers, in turn, to symbolize, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (thought of as God the Mother or Goddess). The ring then remained on the third finger and has become the customary ring finger for English-speaking cultures" (PerfectCircleWeddings.com).

"According to ancient times, when life was much harder and oftentimes shorter, husbands practiced a superstitious ritual to ensure their wives' spirits wouldn't leave too soon. The husband would wrap the bride's ankles and wrists with ropes of grass believing this would keep here spirit within her. Over the years, as religious beliefs evolved, the meaning (and material) of the bonds evolved as well. Today, brides thankfully don't bind their wrists and ankles, only their ring fingers, and grooms have adopted the practice as well. The grass gave way first to leather, then stone, then metal, and finally to gold and silver. Today, the rings symbolize the love and bond between husband and wife." (PerfectCircleWeddings.com).

Image taken from Twin-Diamonds.com

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Religious Traditions


Many Mennonite traditions have changed over time. "Jewelry of any kind has been frowned upon" during a wedding, however, many couples today exchange rings during the ceremony (WeddingChannel.com). Additionally, in past times, many Mennonite women were required to make their own wedding gown as well as wear a covering in place of a veil.


The Jewish tradition for bridal jewelry is quite facinating. A Jewish wedding band must be accepted before the marriage took place and the ring is a simple gold band that does not have any stones or inscriptions on it what so ever (WeddingChannel.com). The band symbolized the "purity of the union" (WeddingChannel.com).

Argentinian Tradition

The Argentianian traditions call for the exchange of rings at the time of the engagement instead of at during the wedding (FormalBride.com). I guess they can't wait to have those rings on their fingers!!

Monthly Traditions

Finally, if you are wondering what month to marry, this poem will help. Many have not given much thought to what the different months mean in terms of how your marriage will be, according to legend. The following poem, directly quoted from http://www.weddings.co.uk/, says it perfectly!

Married when the year is new, he'll be loving, kind and true.
When February birds do mate, You wed nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know.
Marry in April when you can, Joy for Maiden and for Man.
Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you'll go.
Those who in July do wed, must labour for their daily bred.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see
Marry in September's shrine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.

Image taken from
Jewelry by Rhonda

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Fun Traditions

Wedding Traditions & History The Ring, Veil, Cake & Flowers
Did You Know? Fun Wedding Facts Wedding Superstitions


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This page went online April 27, 2004. For comments email the author.