The first wedding rings date back to prehistoric times, when cavemen were not placed them around the finger, but around the extremities.
The custom of placing a ring on the finger of his wife was established in the ancient Egypt.
The ancient Egyptians as well as many other ancient cultures believed that circle was the symbol of eternity, wholeness and perfection because it had no beginning and no end, and its endlessness is the perfect symbol of oneness and unity, and hence the perfect symbol of marriage and love. Its shape was worshipped in the form of the Sun, the Moon and universe.
The hole in the center of the ring were said not to be just space; it is important in its own right as the symbol of the gateway, or door which leads to things and events both known and unknown.
The Egyptians wore it like we do today, on the third finger on the left hand, because of a belief that the vein of that finger leads directly to the heart.
This practice was later taken up by the Greeks, when they conquered Egypt in 332 B.C and from them passed onto the Romans, who called this the ''vena amoris'', which is Latin for ''the vein of love''.
Materials for the rings have varied through the history.
The Egyptians used twigs, hemp, or plant stems and shaped them into circles and placed them on the brides' ring fingers. Also, archaeologists have found references to metal wedding rings among the Ancient Egyptians' hieroglyphics which had precious and semi-precious stones set into them. They usually wore jewelry to express wealth than to show sentiment.
In the Roman Empire wives were a possession to the Romans and the ring was a sign of ownership. Iron was adopted as the metal of choice rather than copper or brass for making rings because iron symbolized the strength of love a man felt for his chosen woman, though rust was problem.
The most imposing ring of all time was that used at the Hebrew wedding, which was shaped like the roof of a Jewish temple. Because it was so large and clumsy it could not be worn in the ordinary manner.
The Christians used the ring in marriage ceremonies for the first time around 860, and it was a highly decorated ring, engraved with symbolical figures of doves, lyres and even of two linked hands.
Today, the people almost always choose wedding rings made of gold, silver, or platinum. Some of them want alternative rings, such as titanium, stainless steel, ceramic rings or even a tattooed ring.
As for wedding bands for men, they are a fairly recent innovation. During World War II it became fashionable for men to wear ring to remind them of the loving wives waiting back home.