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In Brazil there are some social norms when it comes to engagement and wedding rings. In this article we will explain a bit more about the Brazilian habits in this subject.
Wedding bands have been worn since ancient Greece to symbolize the union and love of a couple. Engagement rings appeared more recently, in the 15th century, when the ideas of marriage and love became more closely aligned. The first bride to wear an engagement ring as a sign of love and lasting union was Mary of Burgundy, who was gifted a diamond ring by her husband, the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, in 1477.
Brazil has a very strong culture of wearing rings. From couples dating to weddings, there is a complex – and sometimes confusing – etiquette when it comes to what kind of ring to wear, what it will be made of and in what finger you should wear it on.
Remember that these are only what is most commonly done, and not necessarily a rule. There are boyfriends and girlfriends who don't wear rings, as well as married couples who also don't bother to wear it. It all varies from couple to couple.
There are some couples that like to wear rings when they are dating. In these cases, the ring is called promise ring – in Brazil, anel de compromisso or commitment ring – and is usually made of silver or steel. These kind of rings are usually equal for both and it is important in these cases that the couple's rings are the same style.
To give a promise ring doesn't necessarily mean that you are going to marry the person, but it can often seen as a pre-engagement ring. Since it is a quite new and very well accepted habit between Brazilians, it has been trivialized, specially young Brazilian couples. For being such a new habit among couples, there are no “rules” about when this type of ring should be given. Some couples start wearing rings in the first month of dating, others in the sixth, and others still after two years. At the same time, couples that have been dating for four years may not wear a ring at all. It usually depends on the couple itself.
There are also no fixed rules when it comes to engraving the names on the ring. There are many possibilities: engraving the name of the couple, only the name of the boyfriend or girlfriend, or even their nicknames. It is possible to engrave the date when the couple started dating as well, but it is not obligatory.
Usually the couple buys a pair of rings, each one to be worn on the ring finger of the right hand. These rings may be worn again after marriage too, or substituted by wedding bands. The only difference is that, in the case of Brazil, they are worn on the ring finger of the left hand.
Sometimes, only the bride-to-be receives an engagement ring, which can be a diamond ring, the symbol of everlasting love, like in the tradition in the U.S. However, this situation is not very common in Brazil – and not very safe either.
Sometimes, like mentioned above, the wedding bands are the engagement rings, just worn in the ring finger of the left hand instead of the right hand. However, sometimes a new pair of rings is bought especially to the marriage, and then the engagement rings can be worn with the official marriage rings on the very same finger.
There are three anniversaries which are celebrated in a very special way: the silver anniversary, the gold anniversary and the diamond anniversary – which correspond, respectively, to 25, 50 and 60 years of marriage. In the silver anniversary, it is common to change the wedding bands for new ones.
In some countries, such as in the United Kingdom, it is a new trend to melt the old marriage bands and create brand new rings. In Brazil it is not a spread habit, though; divorced people simply just stop wearing their wedding bands.
Wearing the wedding ring after the death of the partner is also optional and varies according to the person. There are widows that start to wear their late husband's wedding band with their own rings, on the ring finger of the left hand. Other widows just keep using their own wedding rings, in a way to maintain a sense of proximity to their late husbands, or to protect the widow against romantic approaches in case she isn't ready to move on yet. Widowers don't usually wear their rings when their partners die.