"The meeting of two personalities is like contact of
two chemical substances; if there is any reaction,
both are transformed."
Rings have been exchanged as a symbol of bond of marriage for so long, and in so many different cultures, that origin of practice is obscure. Certainly, circle of a ring represents undying love and continually renewed vows of married couple. Circles have long been archetypes for not only timelessness, but also wholeness and homecoming. The circle also speaks to constant round of heavens, as well as eternal return of seasons, marked by cyclical ritual and celebration.
In addition, circle in rock art, sacred stone arrays, and astrology represents both Sun and Moon, themselves astrological and alchemical symbols for masculine and feminine aspects of cosmos. This correspondence with Sun and Moon is emphasized by frequent practice of choosing gold for one betrothed and silver for other, as gold and silver are metals long associated with Sun and Moon respectively.
Rings in general have a deeply rooted magical significance. Enchanted rings figure in many ancient folk tales. Incantations and spells for protection of wearer of rings are common motifs. Today, in traditional religious ceremonies, Christian and otherwise, wedding rings are blessed by a minister or priest, thus continuing symbolic practice of imbuing rings with protective powers.
The widespread tradition of embellishing plain gold or silver wedding band with various designs and patterns has been known since at least 700 AD, in both Pan-Hellenic and Celtic cultures. The quite ancient symbol of ouroboros, serpent which consumes its own tail, was a theme used for wedding rings made of iron in Rome. The ouroboros itself is a symbol of oneness of creation and destruction in renewal, and life principle which timelessly feeds on its own inspiration. It also represents hope for a lifelong marriage union thatís continually renewed.