Monday, January 23, 2012

Ancient Roman Betrothal Jewelry

Spring in Italy, by Michael Longo
Purchase this and other pieces at

"Italy and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy."
~Bertrand Russell

In in effort to spread happiness, I am bringing first love, spring, and Italy all into one post for you. Though I can't physically alter the fact that the whole West Coast is experiencing winter in all its glory, I aim to bring a little sunshine into your home with this beautiful painting of Italy in the spring, as well as a few tidbits from the research I've done on Italian betrothal jewelry and customs.

Though I must stick to my focus and write about the jewelry, I was thrilled to read about how the men at Italian weddings customarily dance with their suit jackets open, something I've seen my Italian relatives do on occasion with great flair. Any guesses as to why they would do this?

evviva gli spossi
Photo credit: NozzeClick

There is also the tradition, customarily the role of an inebriated gentleman guest, of calling out "evviva gli spossi" ("hurray for the newlyweds"). Following the lead of this first hurrah, if there was even a hint of a lull in the dancing, eating, or partying, someone else in the crowd would inevitably liven things up with a hearty shout of "evviva gli spossi".

Hands down, Italians know how to party with flair, and they also know how to bring style to all they do. Here we turn our attention toward the jewels. Though at the outset the custom of presenting a woman with a diamond engagement ring may seem timeless and universal, it is imperative that we pay homage to Ancient Rome, one of the founding mothers of this modern-day custom.

Fede Ring
Photo Credit: Explore Italian Culture

In Ancient Rome, betrothals were tantamount to corporate mergers. A betrothed woman was presented with an iron ring (commemorated now in the Italian custom whereby the groom carries a piece of iron in his shirt pocket to ward off evil spirits).

Said iron ring served as a sign of the iron-clad, binding contract between families, pardonable only by the death of the intended. Thankfully, the custom of business mergers went out of fashion just as the iron ring gave way to the more beautiful gold bands which became popular in the third century.

Eventually, these simple gold bands gave way to carved bands in the shape of bodies entwined or clasped hands. Similar in style and symbolism to the Irish Claddagh rings, these "fede" ("trust") rings marked this transition toward exchanging rings as a pledge of trust and love, which has remained a timeless custom ever since.

I'd love to hear your thoughts as to why Italian men dance with their suit jackets open at a wedding. Leave me a comment and come back next Monday for the answer.


Research Credits:
World Wedding Customs
Explore Italian Culture

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

For the Sake of Freedom

WE WON!!!!! Congress responded to the voice of the people and dropped the vote.

By following this link, you have the opportunity to stop legislators from passing a bill that needs to be stopped. Congress will be voting on SOPA and PIPA on the 24th of this month. Hailed as an anti-piracy act, to protect us from "outsiders," it is really an act of widespread censorship meant to protect big business from the masses. While there may be some sense in building fortresses and the like, we must consider that walls keep people in as well as out. This is no time to fold, folks. Play your hand, spread the word, and speak up.

If you don't know about it, Google SOPA and read all about it. And if you find yourself feeling your voice rising up against it, just click this link and send a quick note to Congress.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Painting by Zohann Zoffany, 1770
Photo courtesy of Ann Lauren

I have been busy sorting through Vintage Betrothal's archives, and I'm so pleased at the transformation I can already see taking place. I have decided to leave some remnants of each post as a tribute to our time spent with the queens and their kings. Click the link for a peek at the past with my images of choice and a brief excerpt from the post I wrote on August 11, 2010.

You might as well join me as I make this transition. I hope you enjoy these, my favorite photos from our time with Sophia Charlotte. And I hope you will take a few minutes to enjoy the linkbacks to these former, now abbreviated posts on King George III and his beautiful queen.

Princess Amelia
Photo courtesy of Chest of Books

My Polyvore Creation

Photo courtesy of Motivate Thyself

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Big Announcement

New Horizons
Photo courtesy of Bold Life

Here is the post where I tell you the exciting things I have planned for Vintage Betrothal. If you've seen my Facebook Page, you know that A Word in Season is all about transforming your life through words. When I first started this blog, I was on the verge of one of the most massive seasons of transition and transformation I've ever experienced.

I have written a lot about that process on my other blog, Brightness of Your Dawn, but the truths I have learned have also popped up along the way in our discussion of the queens. In fact, I intended this all along, but I've come to realize that this underlying motivation to talk to you about transformation has been in direct competition with my motivation to talk to you about jewelry.

MC Escher, Metamorphosis
Photo courtesy of

In an effort to trust that these truths of transformation have become a part of who I am and what I carry, I am now in the process of shifting the focus of Vintage Betrothal. I know I've left you hanging a bit, but I am now finally ready to make my big announcement:

Vintage Betrothal is actually going to become about...
Vintage Betrothal Jewelry

New Horizons
Photo courtesy of Western Art

Here are some things you can expect to see here as I transform Vintage Betrothal:
  • Some old posts will be rewritten as appropriate to the scope of this blog
  • Other old posts will be removed for later publication
  • All new posts will be about global customs in betrothal jewelry throughout the centuries

For those of you who have enjoyed reading about the queens and their lives, I promise you I am not abandoning the topic. I will continue my research into these beautiful lives with the same intent of pulling out all the gold a girl can find on the topic of becoming a queen. I expect some of that material to find its way here, when it fits within the scope of the topic, and the rest I will be compiling toward the goal of publishing a book in the near future!!

It's going to be a wild ride over the next few months, and I'm excited and honored to have you along for the journey!