The Wedding Band, The (ir)refutable symbol of union

Article  /  History
Published: 23.10.2006
The Wedding Band, The (ir)refutable symbol of union.
Jose Carlos Marques
Edited at:

(...) The rings, preferentially valuable, that continue to seal unions are piled up in the gutter and the circle that previously represented infinitely perfect love, now finds itself empty and lifeless (...)

Any individual who lives in a community is a contributor and product of its culture, with it possibly being considered its most potential agent. His behavior, work and legacy can contribute, by addition or subtraction, to the enrichment of the shared inherited culture. Those who perform for vast audiences have, or should have, increased consciousness and responsibilities.

Design is part of a group of disciplines that operate on a global scale who have as their primary objective the improvement of people’s quality of life; its ambition, initially, is to reach the most vast and diversified audience. The local and global are spoken by the voice of their products, more or less hybrid and multicultural, that becomes integrated without imposition, educating and promoting an edifying culture that is increasingly globalized.

If the ethical preoccupations in jewellery are identical to those in design, the stage on which a jeweler acts can differ substantially. A jeweler, acting as a cultural agent, is a mediator in the communication of axiological and aesthetics values, and may perform, without any loss, to audiences that are composed in the singular; moreover, his or her work continues to make sense even if it is unique, as long as its image can be shared.

Just as in design, there must be balance, reflection, and consciousness about the mode in which the message is constructed and conveyed. The jewel is equivalent to a speech, and as such, promotes a system of various equations that act on subtle levels of the human personality, eliciting strong reactions, both chemical and physical. Its reach increases as the number of participants that live through this experience multiply. The simple act of seeing is accompanied by an emotion that is composed of the culture that we possess punctuated by our own personal experiences, and it is from this composite that future molds can be constructed.

Another similarity that jewellery has with design is in the profusion that has intensified since the 1960s. By changing of frontiers and values new languages quickly emerged and were solidified. If on one hand, diversity brought advantages that offered new opportunities, it also disseminated dangerous species whose principal interest is money, isolating endemic species to ever diminishing territories.

The problems with production that were eliminated in the beginning of 20th century, made way to a plague that appears to be even more terrible, wild consumerism that characterizes a fast-food society or the neoliberal globalization model. Groups in power create and promote false necessities appealing consumption as a way to reach earthly happiness. No practice is intact, and the operations reach the most diverse areas including design and Jewellery.

I intend to formally summarize a reflection regarding a key piece of the jewellery universe that is deeply aimed at these aspects.

Based on its history, symbolism, and importance, I opted for the wedding band, the seal of a union between two beings. It refers to an object whose history can be traced back to 2500 AD, has been used as an adornment, a sign of property, a promise of fidelity, a deterrent to potential rivals, and as of recently (since the 19th century), as an unquestionable symbol of true love.

The common use in the masculine universe is even more recent, fueled by large companies such as Cartier or De Beers and it has proven to be quite lucrative. Certainly, the arguments used were more persuasive than those used by the Catholic church in the 15th century, when they established matrimony as the sacred sacrament and determined that the bride and groom should present each other with wedding bands as a symbol of their fidelity (this at a time when weddings were frequently arranged based on material wealth and monogamy was an extremely efficient method of assuring proper succession and inheritances).

Amongst innumerable alternatives, the perfectly circular ring, in the most pliable of metals, used on the ring finger of the left hand, (where it is said, not based on scientific fact, that the amorous vein connects the finger directly to the heart), continues to be lovers’ preferred symbol of their union. There are also those who may not feel it necessary to materialize or display a wedding ring, since they believe that ties are made by invisible threads.

In this proposal the traditional references were maintained while is criticized the discarding that has been extended to affectionate relationships. Independently of the gender or sexual orientation of the individual, it can be observed that the prevailing attitude is egotistical and that there is a lack of desire to invest into solid foundations.

The rings, preferentially valuable, that continue to seal unions are piled up in the gutter and the circle that previously represented infinitely perfect love, now finds itself empty and lifeless. If on one hand it is most common for people to give up, there also cases where those empty rings become stuck on the fingers of their wearers and become a social mask simulating false appearances. There are cases in which those rings are unproven as the promise of fidelity, and are easily removed from the finger dependant on the possibilities. The symbolism of the rings, which is recognized by all western cultures, as well as others, has become a cliché.

The intend on recuperating its might is in a construction that is composed of 18 modules of metal string and a concentric rubber tube, that are joined in a celebration of the passing of time, or for a motive that one feels as valid, until maturity is reached and a perfectly circular ring is joined.

For ethical reasons - recycling must cease being a secondary preoccupation; the poor miners from rich soil countries cannot continue to be exploited - each lover fund a piece that possesses together, getting an unique mixture of metal that will generate the inner part of each ring, reflecting the Jewish concept that marriage is a union of two halves into one. Each module of metal is physically protected wrapped up by an involucre on rubber. Both cone and skin can be transported. After all the modules becoming reunited, the metal circle can be maintained incognito by the coziness of the wrapping rubber that also preserves the intimacy and protects it from prying eyes.


About Jose Carlos Marques.
Born in 1973 at Porto, Portugal.
Final year student for a degree in jewellery at E.S.A.D. Matosinhos, Portugal.
Jewellery workshops with Christoph Zellweger, David Huycke and Theo Smeets.
Participation on 2006 Shibuichi and Portojoia exhibitions.
Free-lancer since 2001 at some areas around fashion: make-up, design, styling and teaching.
Worked 7 years for industry as fashion designer.
Otto Kunzli, Ring for two persons.
Otto Kunzli, Ring for two persons

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The intimate ring
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The modulus
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The modulus
Brad Pitt’s “design” for Damiani

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The modulus.
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Relation in progress.
Relation in progress

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