HOME NEW Pearl Education Beading Q & A Tools Jewelry Tech Video Jewelry Glossary

Ring

A ring is a round band, usually in metal, worn as ornamental jewellery around the finger, or sometimes the toe; it is the most common current meaning of the word "ring".
Ring (jewellery)
A ring is a round band, usually in metal, worn as ornamental jewellery around the finger, or sometimes the toe; it is the most common current meaning of the word "ring". Strictly speaking a normal ring is a finger ring (which may be hyphenated); other types of rings worn as ornaments are earrings, bracelets for the wrist, armlets or arm rings, toe rings and torcs or neck rings, but except perhaps for toe rings, the plain term "ring" is not normally used to refer to these.

Rings are traditionally usually in metal but can be of almost any material: metal, plastic, stone, wood, bone, glass, or gemstone to name a few. They may be set with a gem or stone of some sort, which is often a precious or semi-precious gemstone such as diamond, ruby, sapphire or emerald, but can also be of almost any material.
History

The parts of a ring. 1:Hoop. 2:Shoulder. 3:Bezel. 4:Stone/gem in setting/mounting.
The custom of giving and receiving finger rings dates back over approximately 6,000 years. Tracing the exact history of this practise is difficult.

Ancient Near East
The Hittite civilization produced rings, including signet rings, only a few of which have been discovered.Old Kingdom Egypt had a variety of finger rings, and a few basic examples have been found, including the famous scarab design. Egyptian rings became more common during the middle kingdom, with increasingly complex designs. As well as metal Egyptians made rings from faience some of which were used as new year gifts. The various Egyptian styles were replaced by Greek and Roman fashions during the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Archaic and classical Greek
Archaic Greek rings were to some extent influenced by Egyptian rings, although they tended to be less substantial and apparently weren't for the most part used as working signet rings. A lack of locally available gold meant that rings made in the eastern colonies tended to be made from silver and bronze while Etruria used gold.

The classical period showed a shift away from bronze, using more silver and gold. The most typical design of the period involved a lozenge bezel mounting an intaglio device. Over time the bezel moved towards a more circular form.

Roman Rings

Henig II rings from the Snettisham Jeweller's Hoard
During the early and middle imperial era (first two centuries AD) the closest there is to a typical Roman ring consisted of a thick hoop that tapered directly into a slightly wider bezel. An engraved oval gem would be embedded within the bezel with the top of the gem only rising slightly above the surrounding ring material. Such rings are referred to Henig II and III/Guiraud 2 in formal academic parlance or simply as Roman rings by modern jewellers. In general Roman rings became more elaborate in the third and fourth centuries AD.

Finger-ring wearing, choice of fingers
The fourth digit or ring finger of the left hand has become the customary place to wear a wedding ring in much of the world, though in certain countries the right hand finger is used. This custom was practically established as the norm during World War II. The use of the fourth finger of the left hand (the 'ring finger') is associated with an old belief that the left hand's ring finger is connected by a vein directly to the heart: the vena amoris or vein of love. This idea was known in 16th and 17th century England, when Henry Swinburne referred to it in his book about marriage. It can be traced back to ancient Rome, when Aulus Gellius cited Appianus as saying the ancient Egyptians had found a fine nerve linking that particular finger to the heart.

Size
Main article: Ring size
While the ISO standard defines ring size in terms of the inner circumference in millimeters various countries have traditional sizing systems that are still used.

Styles

After several thousand years of ring manufacture the total number of styles produced is vast. Even cataloging the rings of a single civilization such as the Romans presents a major challenge. As a result the following list should be considered to be very limited.

Notable individual rings
Iffland-Ring (presently held by Swiss actor Bruno Ganz.)
Hans-Reinhart-Ring (presently held by actor Christoph Marthaler.)
Ring of the Fisherman a.k.a. Papal Ring, the signet ring of office of the Pope.
The One Ring (Sauron's Ring), from J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Hobbit.