On the long road of love and relationships comes a time when decisions to upgrade what has normally been long lasting into the next stage. It all would be incomplete without this one component of jewellery. The ring has come from time in memoriam and continues to shine –literally in the moment of vow exchanges. The ring is a powerful piece of jewellery; one that Namibians’ have not let go-by without making every use of.
Namibia is a renowned diamond producer globally. Naturally, this is expected to dictate the taste of most couples towards purchasing wedding bands and engagement rings that are representative of the home they are so proud of. Jewellers in Namibia have noted that the practice surrounding the purchase and significance of wedding rings in Namibia is particularly unique when compared to most other countries. Namibia for instance, shows signs of a somewhat egalitarian society where men and women are normally both present for the purchase of rings meant for the ceremonies. This is according to Benita Herma co-proprietor at Herrle & Herma Jewelers. She states that most couples enjoy the privilege of deciding for themselves what their ring should look like unlike the conventional style of one partner presenting the ring to the other.
This view seems to be widely held by Namibian Jewelers as Chantell Van Neel, Manager of Galaxy & Co. says that “for engagement rings, some men still prefer to buy them alone – especially for the attribute of surprise, on the other hand, as with regards wedding rings, couples come together now, more often than before.”
Weight of Love
One other factor is that of pricing of wedding rings. For couples that prefer one ring for engagement and another one for the wedding ceremony, this entails a double purchase. It is expected that couples must inculcate the purchase of rings in their wedding budgets, seeing as this price is a relatively costly one. A quotation hanging on the walls of the Galaxy & Co. states that “Real love deserves Real diamonds”, whereas a popular American belief suggests that a wedding ring must cost not less than ‘Twice the monthly salary of the groom.’ Depending on the ring type, most imported rings cost between N$699 to N$13000. At the top level others, especially locally crafted rings may cost between N$15000 to N$30000 only. This can be divided by the couple who both foot the bill if they both decide to go for the upper road.
The Ring Types
Namibia enjoys a wide variety of ring designs that individuals have to choose from, some are made from locally mined stone whereas others are from South Africa. Some Jewellers offer in-house designing depending on the preference of clients whereas others import specific designs that also are taken from customers desires. Some of the types of designs that are on show in various stores include: Silver + Diamond, Silver + Gold + Diamond, Gold + White Gold, Solitaire and Gemstone.
It is almost impossible to get married in this generation without one of the most important components, the ring. This practice is well known and widely practiced among most 21st Century couples. From the engagement all the way to the actual wedding – the ring plays a very prominent role even in acting as evidence of the existence of a marital agreement. One would wonder though, given the prominence attached to this very expensive metallic circle, where does it originate from and what does it symbolize for various societies that go through with the practice.
The use of wedding rings is widely accepted today and historians believe that “the oldest recorded exchange of wedding rings comes from ancient Egypt, about 4 800 years ago. Sedges, rushes and reeds, growing alongside the well-known papyrus were twisted and braided into rings for fingers and other decorative ornaments worn by the women in those days.” This is according to Rings International. The use of rings was largely reserved for women who were to be married as a way of symbolizing their devotion to their husband to be. This simultaneously labeled them as a no-go-area to other men who intended to be potential suitors.
Drawing from prehistoric belief system, “the circle was the symbol of eternity, with no beginning or end.” Most groups, especially religious and cultural state that the circular design of the ring is still representative of that initial belief. The hole in the center of the ring also had significance. It wasn’t just considered a space, but rather, according to Life-Long blog “a gateway, or door; leading to things and events both known and unknown. To give a woman a ring signifies never-ending and immortal love.” A couple that shares the above sentiments will note that such blessings of ‘never-ending and immortal love’ cannot be forgone.
One would ask though, what led to the use of metal rings. It is said that the materials that were used in the making of the early rings did not last very long and thus it soon became inevitable that they be substituted with rings made of leather, bone or ivory. Depending on the materials that where used and on the skill of the craftsman, the prices of rings differed. “The more expensive the material, the more love shown to the receiver; the value of the ring also demonstrated the wealth of the giver,” as appears to still be the case today.
Why on the Left?
Chantell Van Neel, says that the wearing of rings differs as per preference of the bride. “Some ladies who receive both the engagement and the wedding rings start by wearing the engagement ring on the left hand, and then they move it to the right when they are wearing their wedding ring.”
“Wedding rings through different stages in history have been worn on different fingers, including the thumb, and on both the left and right hands. According to a Roman derived tradition, the wedding ring is worn on the left hand ring finger because there was thought to be a vein in the finger, said to be directly connected to the heart.”
However, the existence of such a vein cannot be scientifically proven. Despite this, this myth still remains regarded by many, others merely hopeless romantics, as the number one reason rings are worn on the fourth finger.
Christians have also given a reason for their use of the specific finger when placing the ring. Early Christian marriages had a ritual to wear the wedding ring on the third finger. As the priest recited during the binding, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, he would take the ring and touch the thumb, the index finger, and the middle finger; then, while uttering “Amen”, he would place the ring on the ring finger, which sealed the marriage.
It is obvious that just as blue is the colour of skies on a summer day; rings cannot be detached from their role at a wedding ceremony. Marriages may have been saved by one partner wearing their ring, and also, weddings may have been put off by the overly emphasized value of rings.
These pieces of jewellery can no longer be referred to as just that, they are valuable and represent an in-depth understanding of ones interpretation of love.
By Stephen Nyoni