Eternity Rings - The History and The Meaning

Eternity rings have been given for many years by loved ones celebrating special occasions. But where did the tradition begin, and why do we continue to give these beautiful gifts in the present day?

What is the history of the eternity ring?

The history of eternity rings dates back nearly 4000 years to the ancient Egyptians when they were given from husband and wife simply as a token of love.

Some of the earliest examples of eternity rings were designed to imitate the likeness of a snake consuming its own tail. This image is a common symbol used to represent eternity and often referred to as the 'ouroboros'. Ouroboros rings are still sold today, however the more traditional eternity ring choice is a band of precious metal set with gemstones such as rubies, emeralds and most commonly diamonds.

What is the meaning of an eternity ring?

An eternity ring can hold just as much meaning as an engagement or wedding ring as it is just as much a promise of love and commitment.

Another symbolic meaning that an eternity ring holds is its representation of the circle of life, for this reason it is often given when a couple welcome their first child to the world.

Today eternity rings still carry the symbolic meaning of undying and eternal love and are usually given on a special occasion.

When do you give an eternity ring?

An eternity ring is a traditional anniversary gift, often given on the first anniversary as a reminder that the love expressed on the wedding day is everlasting and as a celebration of the time a couple has spent together in marriage. Eternity rings can also be given as a romantic and thoughtful gift on other significant anniversaries such as a 25th or 50th wedding anniversary and for any other special moment in a relationship.

How should an eternity ring be worn?

Traditionally the wedding band is the first ring worn closest to the heart and after the wedding ceremony the engagement ring is replaced back onto the ring finger to ensure that the wedding band never comes off. It makes sense that an eternity ring is worn in the same way however this is a matter of personal choice.

The three rings are often worn on the third finger of the left hand. In the past it was believed that a vein ran directly from this finger to the heart. It was named vena amoris, Latin for the vein of love.

Eternity Ring Styles at Ernest Jones

At Ernest Jones we offer a large selection of beautiful eternity rings that are perfect for that romantic gesture and expression of undying love. Our eternity rings come in a variety of precious metals so you can choose the one that is right for you. As it is likely that an eternity ring will be worn with the wedding and engagement rings it is advisable to choose one of the same metal type.

Read more about the precious metals in our metal buyer's guide.

Most eternity rings feature stunning sparkling diamonds, however we also have rings featuring other precious stones such as ruby, emerald and sapphire for a splash of colour or something with a more unique style.

There are two main eternity ring designs: the full eternity ring and the half eternity ring.

Full eternity rings usually feature a band set with a continuous circle of stones. The circle of stones is thought to represent continuous and ongoing love.

Half eternity rings usually feature a continuous line of stones on the face of the ring rather than a continuous circle. This is mostly done for comfort. The continuous line of stones is still said to represent eternity.