The typical symbol of a UK engagement is a diamond ring, but around the world engagement jewellery is as varied and diverse as the customs that accompany it. Here is part two of our guide to some of the most interesting traditions from countries across the globe – if you missed part one, you can check it out here.
In China, it’s not just the bride that gets a new piece of jewellery – engagements must be approved by the entire family, and the man’s family will send gifts of clothing, jewellery and precious metals like gold and silver to the family of his partner. If they agree with the engagement, the woman’s family returns a coin engraved with the word ‘yun’ (meaning ‘agreed’), along with their own batch of gifts, and the engagement is complete.
Irish couples often get engaged using a Claddagh ring, which has three distinctive features. The centre of the ring is a heart, which represents love, cradled by two hands, symbolic of friendship, and topped off with a crown, which is said to denote loyalty. Traditionally, these rings were given to represent friendship and family connections, but many couples with a strong connection to their Irish roots choose the Claddagh ring instead of a conventional engagement ring.
In Greece, both members of the partnership wear rings, and like the Irish, they don’t usually opt for the usual diamond ring. Greek couples tend to wear simple gold bands when they become engaged, and these rings serve as the wedding rings too! The rings are blessed by a Greek Orthodox priest for the engagement, worn on the left hand until the marriage ceremony, when they are moved to the right hand instead.
Don’t forget to check back soon for part three of our guide to engagement customs!