After checking with several historians and library resources, it seems that the wedding ring has a slight bit of mystery attached, where the earliest information is dated back to the ancient Egyptians.
Along the Nile River, the first wedding rings were created out of plants and weeds forming them into rings and bracelets. For the Egyptians, the ring was a circle which symbolized eternity and parallels the sun and moon, which as we know the Egyptians worshipped. The hole in the center is thought to be related to the symbol of an entrance leading into the afterlife, and as we have found the Egyptians believed in the afterlife due to the items they put in the tombs of their loved ones.
With this information, it is easy to see how the wedding ring became associated with the gift of love and eternity. The Egyptians wore the ring on their third finger as we do today. The idea was that the vein in the third finger traveled directly to their heart.
This myth was then followed by the Greeks after they conquered Egypt and then passed to the Romans. Rings only lasted for a year or so due to the materials they were constructed with. It was believed that hemp was the earliest construction material, followed by ivory, bones, and leather. As time passed, metallurgy appeared and iron, copper, and brass were used to construct rings. The Egyptians used jewels set in the metal. This is verified through the hieroglyphs in tombs.
It was in the early Roman period that rings were constructed of iron and symbolized strength in the love a man had for his wife. It was also at this time in history that the ring was considered to be legally binding, and the bride-to-be the property of the man. On occasion, silver or gold rings were used to symbolize that the man trusted his bride with valuables.
Later in history when gold coinage was introduced gemstones were again added such as rubies, sapphires and of course the most valued was the diamond. It was not until Italy’s period of renaissance that a new idea of the betrothed or engagement ring came about. It was also at this time that silver was being used in France and England. Frequent mention by Shakespeare proved the popularity of inscription on the rings.
Myths of bad luck, if it was not made of gold, or if it was not a proper fit surfaced in Ireland, but this cannot be validated. Along the same lines, early Protestants claimed that rings should not be used. Today all Christians recognize the wedding ring placed on the third finger of the left hand.
The tradition of modern ring exchange (both wearing rings) became popularized during the time of the Second World War, where men leaving their wives wanted reminders of their loved ones back home. For other wedding, traditions click here: Wedding Traditions
In conclusion, history gives us information dating back as far as the Egyptians, and a strong sense of how the wedding ring traditions passed down through the ages to our modern day traditions, which ultimately symbolizes the love and unwritten contract between two people.