Jewish law requires that a groom give his bride an article of value as part of the marriage rite. Originally a coin, custom has for a long time suggested that this token be a ring.
The ring must clearly meet the requirement of having a certain minimum value – in order to ensure this, Jewish wedding rings must be made of solid and unbroken metal, without stones or other additions. Rabbis have long held that it is much harder to be certain that the ring is worth the correct amount if it is set with stones, as it is much easier to fool the eye with imitation gems than cheap metals. (This was especially true in eras past, when metal refining technology was less sophisticated.) Thus, the requirement that the ring be of solid metal, and not include any other elements, is meant to assure the bride, and the witnesses at the wedding, that the groom is in fact fulfilling his obligations.
Jewish wedding rings must be made of solid and unbroken metal, without stones or other additions
Although we can now quite easily assess a piece of jewelry to determine its worth, the custom of using a simple ring made of plain metal has been retained. The purity and simplicity of the ring indicate that ornamentation and extravagance do not matter at the moment of marriage. It also is a sign that on their wedding day all brides, regardless of how wealthy or poor, are equal in their participation in the marriage rite, and equal in their joy.
By Jewish law that the groom be the legal owner of the ring
While traditionally made of gold, the ring used in a Jewish wedding may be of any appropriate metal – silver and platinum and frequently used as well. It cannot have any breaks – the ring must be a continuous circle. This symbolizes the unending and continuous love between a bride and groom.
It is also stipulated by Jewish law that the groom be the legal owner of the ring – because it indicates a man’s undertaking of financial commitments to his wife, the ring must be one he is rightfully in a position to give. Thus, the ring must either be purchased by the groom, or given to him as a gift (as may be the case if a family heirloom is used), and the groom will be asked to certify that he owns the ring during the ceremony.
Read our Jewish Wedding 101: The Ring Ceremony for more details!