As a jeweller that specialises inengagement rings, wedding bands and unique bespoke commissions, milestone moments are the nucleus of our existence. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know human beings from myriad walks of life, our clients spanning the globe from Australia to Austria, the United States to India. Privileged to have created ethical gold wedding bands for a number of Indian wedding ceremonies – some Hindu, some Sikh, some interfaith and some secular – today we’re exploring the gleaming world of Indian wedding bands, from historic traditions to popular wedding band styles and how we at Lebrusan Studio would love to help you with yours.
With 705 officially recognised ethnic groups in India and four Dharmic religions originating from India alone, it’s important that we begin by acknowledging that there is no such thing as a quintessential ‘Indian wedding’.
Whilst some ceremonies marrying those of Indian heritage are secular celebrations shaped by personal preferences, others encompass centuries-old practises and traditions that hail from particular religions or geographic regions. A Sikh Anand Karaj would look pretty different to a Hindu Vivaha, for example. However, nuances in mind, we know that the 21st century has seen wedding bands become an almost universal preference for Indian brides and grooms on their special days.
The short answer to this question is yes: lots of Indian brides and grooms wear wedding rings.
For some – such as Christian Indians – wedding bands are a traditional custom. For those who aren't religious at all, the exchange of symbolic bands is simply a personal choice.
At Hindu weddings, wedding bands are often exchanged as part of a long day of important stages. However, unlike in some other religions, the wedding band is not an official declaration of marriage, but an adopted custom that follows the practises which doseal the deal. These formalities make up the Mangalya Dharanam ceremony, where the marriage commitment is established, and include the groom placing the Mangalsutra (‘sacred thread’ in Sanksrit) around the bride’s neck, then tying it in knots with the help of a woman from his family. Kumkum (Sindoor, a vermilion red or orange-red coloured powder) is also applied by the groom to the bride’s forehead, before she reciprocates by applying Chandan tilak (sandalwood paste) to his. Once the Mangalsutra has been tied and the Kumkum applied by the groom, the wedding rings are usually exchanged. In India, a Hindu husband may not necessarily wear a wedding ring, whilst it’s feasible that Hindu husbands who live in countries where wedding rings are traditionally worn by men will follow suit.
Many practising Sikhs don’t exchange wedding bands during the Anand Karaj (the traditional Sikh marriage ceremony). Instead, it’s common for couples to declare their commitment to one another by singing four hymns, known as the Anand Karaj Lavan, followed by a circumambulation around the Guru Granth Sahib, the central holy religious scripture of Sikhism. The circumambulation, which must also be performed four times, marks the completion of what Sikhs refer to as the ‘blissful union’; in other words, the tying of the couple’s souls to one another. Couples may choose to exchange gold rings as a symbol of eternal commitment to each other outside of the Anand Karaj – or indeed receive them as gifts from family. However, whilst these golden rings remain treasured for as long as the couple are married, in many cases they’re worn only on special occasions instead of on a daily basis.
Similarly, whilst wedding bands are not traditional Islamic custom, some practising Muslim couples may wish to gift one another celebratory rings in private, albeit purely as a visual expression of commitment; for to ascribe the power of protection to wedding bands is considered to be a shirk of Allah, who is the only deity with the power to protect. According to Ibn Majah, the Prophet Muhammad forbade gold adornments for men, which is one reason why some Muslim men may choose not to wear a wedding band altogether; or to opt for a ring cast in platinum or palladium instead.
24ct gold is the highest possible caratage attainable; 100% pure gold, mixed with no other metals. On account of India being its biggest consumer in the world, 24ct gold is often known colloquially as ‘Indian gold’.
Across India, gold is a symbol of auspiciousness, wealth and prosperity; qualities assigned great value in Indian cultures. To imagine a typical Hindu celebration is to envisage an abundance of gleaming yellow gold, everywhere from candles to table settings and the bodies of merrymakers. Buying and gifting gold on special occasions is thought to further enhance its lucky qualities, promising good fortune in the future.
Also a solid practical investment that increases in value over time and can be converted to cash if necessary, gold is viewed as a source of comfort and security in times of economic trouble. It’s for this reason that it’s often purchased by Indian elders in the form of coins, bars and jewellery, then passed carefully from one generation to the next. Whilst gold heirloom jewellery is often gifted to the bride by her family at a Hindu wedding, gold coins and rings are traditionally gifted between brides’ and grooms’ families at Sikh weddings.
What’s more, yellow gold is considered across religions to symbolise purity and light, emulating the colour of the sun and the divine glow of the human soul. It’s for these reasons that it’s the most common choice for wedding bands at Indian wedding ceremonies, symbolic of deep and unfaltering commitment. High-purity 24ct and 22ct gold is chosen to signify the depth of the love between two people, with the more gold exchanged, the longer, happier and more prosperous the marriage expected to be.
Although our ethical gold wedding bands and commitment rings are cast in 18ct gold as default, we can source 22ct recycled gold and would be delighted to create you some ‘forever’ jewels that match the yellow hue of your other jewellery and the depth of your commitment to one another.
Around the world, many brides and grooms wish to exchange simple bands whose value is more sentimental than visual. Our classic gold wedding rings are timeless and unassuming; the perfect choice for those who don’t wish to wear statement jewels on a day-to-day basis. A clever way to imbue unembellished jewellery like this with special symbolism is to hand-inscribe the inside of your band with your partner’s name so they’re always with you in spirit; a common practise for Hindu brides and grooms. For an additional £100, you can customise any of our plain wedding bands with an engraving of your choice.
On the flip side of the coin, other many other weds-to-be choose distinctive wedding bands that pay homage to the ornate aesthetics of Indian jewellery. With a legacy of 5,000 years, the history of Indian jewellery and its artisans has been dubbed the history of India itself. For 2,000 years, India was the world’s sole exporter of gems. It was also the Indians who invented the diamond drill, which they then taught to the Romans. In modern-day India, there are an astounding five to six million jewellers who contribute a total of 7% to the country’s GDP. So nuanced and fine is their work that every Indian state boasts its own distinctive craft style – from lace-like filigree in Gujarat to glittering faceted gemstones in Bengal and vibrant Kundan jewellery from Rajasthan that combines elaborate forms with coloured gemstones, foil and enamel. Whilst it’s no secret that ostentatious gold jewellery is worn by Hindu Indian women on special occasions as symbols of wealth and good fortune, an association between opulence and the Maharajahs also means that many Indian men are proud wearers of extravagant jewellery when possible, too.
For those who wish to nod to the opulence and exquisite craftsmanship synonymous with their homeland, Lebrusan Studio’s intricate and highly crafted wedding ring designs might appeal. The florid scrolls and angular motif that adorn our 3mm ethical gold Scrolls and Wheat Sheaf bands respectively are painstakingly hand-engraved in Hatton Garden using traditional manual tools. Meanwhile, the conflict-free diamonds carefully hand-set into our Braided wedding ring are resilient and spirited, symbolic of eternal love. More elaborate still are our Artisan Filigree jacket rings, substantial in stature and inspired by the ancient filigree technique.From Raiyah’s minimalist band set with talismanic emeralds and diamonds to Marianne’s intricate hand-crafted filigree ring, you might also draw inspiration from the unique wonders of our bespoke wedding band gallery.
And there we have it: Lebrusan Studio’s brief overview of Indian wedding rings, from their significance throughout Indian cultures to their symbolic value and popular Indian wedding band styles. If you’re planning your Indian wedding and would like our help to mark the occasion, it would be our honour to create you some forever jewels of your own.