Wedding rings grows in popularity amongst non-Christians in Indonesia

Whatever pagan or mystical symbolism rings had has largely been lost with time. Today, Indonesians, like most others in the 21st century, see wedding rings in a different light.


Personal meaning: Nahla Faizah believes that the ring represents the sacred promise of eternal bond in marriage. (Clinovic/Nahla Faizah) (Clinovic/Nahla Faizah)

September 22, 2022

JAKARTA – Despite being a Muslim-majority country, Indonesia has embraced the culture of exchanging rings during weddings and engagements for quite some time.

The custom of exchanging rings among Western Judeo-Christians was adapted from an ancient Roman tradition that further traces back to the pagan beliefs of Ancient Egypt. The ancient Romans believed there was a vein in the human body called vena amoris (vein of love), said to be located in the fourth finger of the left hand. Hence, wedding rings are worn on that finger.

Whatever pagan or mystical symbolism the rings had have largely been lost in the passage of time. Today, Indonesians, like most others in the 21st century, see wedding rings in a different light.

Take Nahla Faizah, a 25-year-old master’s student from Tangerang who recently tied the knot with her now-husband, for example. Despite being a Muslim, Nahla shares the same universal belief that the rings represent the endless circle of bond and devotion in marriage.

However, for Nahla and her husband, the wedding rings are worn mainly as part of their identity. “This is to declare that we’re actually a married couple,” she said. Nahla wore her engagement ring on her right hand and now wears her wedding ring on her left, stacked together with her engagement ring, because “that was the custom”.

“I wear [engagement and wedding rings] because it is the most classic and common in all social classes [to be given as a dowry]. Among my peers, [rings] are the acceptable signs of love,” she said.

This goes back to Nahla’s parents as well. According to Nahla, a religious leader among her kin advised her father to present a ring when he proposed to her mother as a sign of serious intent. This way, people would know that her mother had been proposed to and would not pursue her with the intention of marriage.

Back in their time, they only knew gold rings. They didn’t know rings could be made from other materials,” said Nahla. “They eventually sold their rings for financial reasons. When they could afford to buy new ones at a point, it no longer felt necessary. So they bought other jewelry instead, or just gold bars.”

Trending: Nahla Faizah combines her engagement and wedding rings, wearing them stacked on her left hand following the current trend. (Clinovic/Nahla Faizah) (Clinovic/Nahla Faizah)

Secret statements

The Yogyakarta-based brand Spilla Jewelry, one of the go-to brands for young Indonesian couples, specializes in wedding rings made from silver, gold, palladium and platinum.

“Many Indonesians do not understand the meaning of the statement ring and [the meaning it symbolizes],” said Ayke Addausy Putri, social media and external relations manager for Spilla Jewelry. This may result in unwanted or awkward situations — as statement rings, just like the name indicates, hold a specific statement behind them.

“If a person who wears a wedding ring on the ring finger [were to wear] another ring on their middle finger, [the wedding ring] might be considered a mere fashion ring with no meaning whatsoever. [Here] the wearer does not know that wearing a statement ring on the middle finger may be interpreted by some as a symbol of freedom [meaning that they are not yet proposed or not married].”

Personal meaning: Nahla Faizah believes that the ring represents the sacred promise of eternal bond in marriage. (Clinovic/Nahla Faizah) (Clinovic/Nahla Faizah)

Unique requests

Unlike statement rings, the designs of wedding and engagement rings from era to era do not change that much. People tend to opt for classic models that can fit every occasion.

“If we survey various social media platforms, competitors and so forth, most wedding ring designs are always the same, namely classic. The classic ring model is solid and flat,” said Ayke. “Name engraving is still popular. Of course, many people like it if there is a decorated initial engraving on their rings because it creates a personal and intimate impression.”

However, some would like to have their rings customized to their liking, sometimes to the extreme. Brands like Spilla, Adelle and Clemence Ellery face this on a regular basis.

“We once received a request to make a custom ring inspired by Lord Voldemort’s Horcrux ring in the Harry Potter series. This ring is designed with natural emerald stone and decorated with special pattern carvings,” said Valencia Mulyadi, brand manager for Jakarta-based Adelle Jewellery.

“Many [came with extreme requests] because they want to be different. Some would come to customize their simple wedding band but want it to be more fashionable,” said Natalia, cofounder of Clemence Ellery Fine Jewelry. “I don’t think [tweaking the classic model] reduces the sacredness. It’s still a ring.

” Likewise, according to Valencia, despite the form and the accompanying trend, the sanctity of rings as a symbol of an affectionate bond will remain the same.

“Engagement or wedding rings still symbolize the sacred promise of a couple because we believe the ring has been chosen with various considerations by the couple, which symbolizes their love story,” she said, adding that the essence is not the form of jewelry, but the value and intention behind it.

“In some traditions, engagement is not marked by exchanging rings for the prospective bride and groom but with the groom giving a necklace to the prospective bride. This does not change the essence of the engagement itself.”

Valencia suggests that couples do prior research before investing in engagement or wedding rings. This would be especially handy, especially when a couple needs to come with specific requests on materials due to allergies or religious beliefs.

“Understand and know everything about the rings, such as ring materials, the quality of diamonds and ring models. Customize the ring model with each purpose,” she said while emphasizing that valuable jewelry should be bought from a trusted seller — considering the relatively high price.

“There is no ideal budget for a wedding ring. Adjust [your rings] to the conditions of you and your partner,” she said. “Set a budget and buy a wedding ring that fits that budget.”

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