Eternity rings are among the most popular romantic jewellery gifts, and are often considered some of the most meaningful. However, most people don’t really, fully appreciate what that meaning is except for what is implied by the name. To fully understand what eternity rings represent, it is necessary both to understand what exactly these rings are and to look into their history.
What is an Eternity Ring?
There are two kinds of eternity ring; “full” eternity and half eternity. Full eternity rings are rings with a row of jewels – often diamonds but other gems are used to – going full-circle around the ring. Half eternity rings only have the jewels on top. Full eternity rings are often considered the most exquisite, because they are fully covered in jewels. However, some people prefer half eternity rings on the grounds that the stones underneath are less visible anyway and are less likely to catch on clothing etc.
Eternity rings are mainly considered feminine jewellery, but they are by no means exclusively for women. It is not especially difficult to find well-made and beautiful eternity rings for men, and in recent years the number of male-targeted eternity rings has been on the rise.
The Beginning of Eternity
Some of the oldest known rings that we would now recognise as eternity rings come from Ancient Egypt, and are around 4,000 years old. Many of the oldest eternity rings were “Ouroborous rings,” a very distinctive style that is still available today. These were shaped like a snake eating its own tail, symbolising an unbreakable and neverending cycle.
Since those early days, eternity rings have found their way into a number of different traditions throughout the centuries. They are almost always taken to represent love, and in Western culture over the past few hundred years they have become associated with a number of special occasions. They are associated with wedding anniversaries – particularly the first, silver (25th) and golden (50th) anniversaries. They may also traditionally be given to a romantic partner after the birth of the first child. In recent years, more and more couples have been choosing them as wedding rings instead of the more traditional plain gold band.
So What do Eternity Rings Mean?
The most important meaning behind eternity rings is exactly what you might infer from the name; they symbolise eternity, and unbreakable circle, and something never-ending. This is a meaning that has become even stronger thanks to the fact that this kind of ring is, itself, very old. The 4,000 year history of these rings and their enduring popularity down the ages makes them all the more potent as a symbol of something eternal.
The number of jewels on an eternity ring also plays into its meaning. They not only add beauty, but it also makes the ring more valuable, and the need for correct spacing makes them more difficult to make. This, as well as the symbolism, is what makes them so iconic and prestigious as a love gift.
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