For more than 4,000 years, the diamond has symbolized the strength of a couple’s devotion, often with the understanding that the bigger the diamond, the deeper the love. Recent estimates note that roughly 70 percent of American brides opt to wear the “King of Stones,” but in some countries, such as Spain, France, Italy, India and Greece, other precious gemstones are just as prized for their unique beauty, mythological properties and historic associations with marriage.
The stone of wisdom and royalty, ancient cultures believed sapphires carried divine favor because they were sent from the heavens. Favored by monarchs, clerics and shamans, scholars note that the 10 Commandments were presented to Moses on a sapphire platter, and Buddhists use the blue gem to induce trances that enable them to communicate with the supernatural world to gain insight and inspiration.
Brilliant sapphire wedding rings are particularly common in Europe, especially during the Edwardian era and after Princess Diana and Princess Kate accepted an 18-carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring from their respective princes. In the symbolic language of jewels, the peaceful energy of the sapphire is said to promote a long, happy marriage because it has the power to bestow faith, communication, honesty, and understanding upon the wearer.
Although blue is the most common color, the September birthstone is available in a variety of shades, including yellow to maintain harmony and promote fidelity in a marriage as well as pink to promote forgiveness and strength in difficult situations.
Second, only to the diamond in its durability, the vivid red hue of rubies has a long association with passionate love.
Ancient civilizations, from the Aztecs, Sinhalese and Chinese to Christians and Hindus, revered the scarlet stone like the King of Gems, the one that surpasses all others in virtue.
The birthstone of fiery personalities born under the July sun, rubies are believed to open the heart so that the wearer can accept all the love and good fortune that is meant to come their way.
It is also prophesied that rubies can protect the wearer from having impure thoughts, change colors to signal health problems or crack to forewarn of coming troubles. In Greece, a coiled snake ring with glistening ruby eyes has been traditionally given by lovers to represent their eternal union. It also represents the Greek god of healing, Asclepius.
Backed by a 6000-year history, the emerald was the sacred stone of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and Venus, the Roman goddess of passion, as well as Cleopatra, the venerated pharaoh who wielded great power over influential men. Believed to attract good fortune, used to foretell the future and worn to promote good health, the stone is used by numerous cultures as an amulet to heal the heart and eyes as well as ease the pains of childbirth.
Although wearing an emerald engagement or wedding ring is a slowly rising trend in America thanks to celebrities such as Halle Barry and Kate Hudson, the earthy gemstone is a common betrothal gift in Ireland. With its rich green tone representing change and rebirth, the May gemstone offers a particularly appropriate sentiment for a marriage. In fact, emeralds are the traditional gift of the 55th wedding anniversary.
Believed to contain aphrodisiac powers, emeralds also endow the wearer with devotion, tranquillity, and wisdom to ensure a blissful marriage. Legend holds that the stone can change its color to inform the owner of any unfaithfulness from their partner. A long-held wedding superstition states that an emerald given to a lover on a Monday will lose its lucky properties.
Wedding Ring Alternatives: Semiprecious Gemstones
Revered over the centuries for their mystical properties to bestow happiness and harmony on a marriage, these six semiprecious stones are often used around the world in betrothal and wedding rings.
Made of the same elements that constitute emeralds, an aquamarine wedding ring is believed to promote communication, clear the mind, and release anger, which are all important elements in a successful marriage. Ancient mythology holds that the greenish-blue gemstone was given by Neptune, the King of the Sea, to the mermaids as a symbol of his eternal love and affection. The jewel of Scorpios, aquamarines are also associated with the fifth chakra, which directs creativity, transformation and healing.
Paired with the fourth chakra, the heart, which is the center for love, compassion, and spirituality, jade is a balancing stone that provides emotional healing. Brides in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Vietnam often wear this love stone to attract happiness, promote serenity, obtain wisdom and ensure a long marriage.
A sacred stone to the Native American and Latino cultures, turquoise is worn to keep you centered in love and connected to your partner. When inlaid with black strips of sard, the Navajo Tribe believes the wearer will remain emotionally attached to their family, home and cultural roots. While metal wedding rings were not traditionally swapped during Native American wedding ceremonies, turquoise stones are typically inlaid with silver.
As the protector of the sign of Sagittarius, the golden topaz is said to ensure fidelity in a relationship. The gem was adopted by Russian czarinas in the 18th and 19th centuries for its ability to provide energy, optimism and mental clarity.
Associated with the third chakra in the solar plexus, which is located between the breastbone and stomach, topaz curbs ego, anger, and impulses while encouraging personal power, intense passion, and inner strength.
Tiger’s Eye is also a balancing stone that restores clarity and tranquility in a relationship. Healer of the second chakra in the stomach, the gold to reddish-brown striped stone governs sexuality, self-worth, confidence, and creativity. It also controls emotional outbursts by promoting balance, providing strength, relieving doubts and converting anxiety into action during difficult times.
Associated with passionate devotion, garnets are said to stimulate the senses, restore stamina and reinvigorate the spirit. The deep red stone promotes a pure and honest mind as well as a loving and compassionate heart.
Although admired for their rarity and beauty, opals and pearls have positive and negative attributes when worn as marriage rings.
Eastern cultures widely regard the opal as a lucky gemstone that brings the wearer fortune in love, imagination, and healing. Popular in Australia, which produces nearly 80 percent of the world’s supply, opals wedding rings range in color from yellow, gray and brown to magenta, olive and blue. Red against black is the rarest while white and green are the most common. Considered extremely auspicious, a pure black opal symbolizes perseverance and constancy in love.
However, when received as a present from her betrothed, opals can cause a bride to become an early widow, unless the gem is her birthstone. Bad mojo is negated by the recipient offering the giver a token penny to pay for the jewel. Misfortunate can also be averted by surrounding the opal in diamonds, which hold power over the multicolored gem. A bezel setting provides the best protection for the softer stone.
As the world’s oldest recorded gem, the opalescent pearl is universally regarded as a symbol of purity, serenity, integrity, and femininity. Some cultures believe that placing a pearl under your pillow during intercourse can increase fertility. Yet, many superstitions surround the milky white stone due to its tear-shaped silhouette. Brides are cautioned against wearing any type of pearls on their wedding day so that they do not invite sadness into their marriage.