Eternity Rings – The History and Traditions

Hand Inprints in Sand Wearing Eternity Rings

The Meaning of the Eternity Ring

An eternity ring is designed to be a symbol or token of everlasting love as well as the ‘eternity’ a husband and wife plan to share together.

The Wikipedia definition of the eternity ring is:

An eternity ring, also known as an infinity ring, is a lady’s ring, worn on the hand, comprising a band of precious metal (usually gold) set with a continuous line of identically cut gemstones (usually diamonds) to symbolize never-ending love, usually given by a husband to his wife on the occasion of a significant anniversary.

History of The Eternity Ring

The concept of an eternity ring dates back approximately 4,000 years to Egyptian times. While the Egyptians didn’t necessarily use the rings to commemorate a specific occasion, they were said to have used them simply as a token of both eternal love and life.

Early examples found were a rather ordinary circle of metal, precious or otherwise, set with stones either on the top half of the ring or running the entire circumference of the ring. Some early examples of eternity rings were also designed to mimic the image of a snake devouring its own tail, a common symbol used to represent eternity, often referred to as the ‘ouroboros’.

A Book Showing Ouroboros

When to Give or Receive an Eternity Ring

Traditionally presented after a couple has already been married, they can be given as a gift to commemorate a milestone wedding anniversary or to celebrate the welcoming of a new child or children into the family.

Unlike the early intentions of eternity rings, today they are usually given to specifically mark a milestone anniversary. The concept of giving an eternity ring to celebrate a milestone in a marriage signifies not only the time you have already spent together but the unending future you plan to share with your one another.

Of course, not all eternity rings are tied specifically to the marriage itself.  Another meaning of the ring is used to represent the eternal circle of life. Because of this, an eternity ring is often given to a wife or new mother by her significant other after their first child is born or welcomed into the family.

A Heart Shape in a Leaf

What Anniversary Should They Celebrate

If you follow the traditional list of proper anniversary gifts, as outdated as it may seem by today’s standards, gemstones were not meant to be given until the fortieth anniversary and, even then, it was only supposed to be rubies, not the diamonds which have come to be the traditional stones in an eternity ring.

So, for couples who insist on sticking to tradition, the diamond eternity ring would be appropriate for your sixtieth anniversary, when diamonds were considered an appropriate gift. On a side note, good luck getting your wife to stick around for 60 years after you’ve given her a piece of wood for your fifth anniversary followed by a piece of tin or aluminium to commemorate ten years of marriage.

For those couples who prefer to follow the more modern list of recommended anniversary gifts, a diamond can be given on the tenth anniversary which would signify the appropriate time to present your wife with a traditional diamond set eternity ring. However, if you really want to make your wife happy, a diamond eternity ring is perfectly suited to celebrate a one year anniversary together.

The Circle of Life – Eternity Ring for the Birth of the First Child

Only in recent years did the original symbolism of the eternity ring as a representation of the circle of life resurface which is when the welcoming of a couple’s first child into the world, by birth or adoption, became another tradition in which the gift of an eternity ring was deemed appropriate.

Baby Feet in the Shape of a Heart

In essence, the ring can either be used to celebrate the time you have spent together in marriage or the time at which your life as a family truly began. Either way, an eternity ring can be just as meaningful as an engagement ring and just as momentous as a wedding band. This is also the reason why so many people choose to wear all three rings together, whether on the same finger or split between the ring fingers on both hands.

If you’re in the mood to shop for a new diamond eternity ring for any of the reasons we mentioned above, or you just want to add some elegance to your fine jewellery collection, then have a look at the Purely Diamonds eternity ring collection we will be able to help you find your perfect ring.

Which Finger to Wear the Eternity Ring On

The eternity ring can be worn on the ring finger of the left hand, or if you already have a wedding ring and an engagement ring it can be worn on the equivalent finger on the right hand, see our guide to wearing a wedding, engagement and eternity ring for more information.

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