Rings and their previous lengthy historical past

Rings are found in almost every culture in the world and have existed for over six thousand years, serving a variety of purposes and satisfying decorative, practical, and symbolic needs. They were used to seal correspondence, authenticate documents, and of course mortgage a heart to another. Rings have often been used as a symbolic expression of faith, to commemorate friendships, to honor those who have left us, and as talismans to offer protection from the forces of evil. Rings were also used as tangible evidence of power and wealth. As if by a miracle, rings have survived all eras and offer valuable historical insights into different cultures as well as a timeline for important design topics and materials.


It is known that the ancient Egyptians wore scarabs Rings intricately carved from a variety of stones, including carnelian, lapis, Amethyst, turquoise and others, simply from a silver or threaded Gold wire. They were often engraved on the flat side of the scarab with decorative hieroglyphics, protective symbols, or titles. Rings served not only as visible symbols of rank and power, but also as a means of authenticating documents. Egyptians wore rings as seals or for religious and talismanic purposes rather than mere decoration.

Scarab rings were also worn by the Greeks, as were engraved signet rings with motifs from nature and characters from mythology and literature. These were set with gemstones valued for their beauty, rarity and talismanic properties. The Greeks used rings as symbols of affection and love, which were often engraved with symbols representing Eros or Aphrodite.

Antique high carat gold ring from the 18th century with antique agate intaglio print.

The first rings were made during the early Roman Republic Iron and served as a seal. The right to wear gold rings was initially permitted depending on status, for example vis-à-vis senators, and only as an ambassador for the republic. In the later years of the Roman Empire, all civilians were granted the right to wear gold rings, and both men and women wore heavy gold rings set with rare and precious gemstones that indicated wealth and status. By the first century AD, each finger could be loaded with multiple decorations.

It is believed that the custom of exchanging rings as a sign of engagement originated from the Romans. Wedding rings often featured the image of two right hands folded in symbolic representation of marriage and were worn on the fourth finger of the left hand on the assumption that that finger had a vein that current love that flowed straight to the heart. Another popular motif was the Wedding Knot, or Hercules’ Knot, a simple and symbolic design of two intertwined ropes, which is likely the origin of the expression “tying the knot”.

Perhaps the ring style most associated with the Romans was the signet ring. Intaglios with the heads of lovers face to face were used in signet rings as wedding rings. Rings, with which official documents were sealed, had Edelstein intaglios often engraved with the portrait of the wearer. Large, ornate signet rings were also worn for purely decorative purposes, depicting aspects of everyday life, figures of gods and rulers, and portraits of poets and philosophers.


In the Middle Ages, the hands were often heavily adorned with each finger, including the thumb, often adorned with multiple rings on different joints. Sometimes rings were threaded on rosaries, attached to a hat, hung from a string or ribbon that was worn around the neck or tied around the arms. The most popular gemstones were sapphires, garnets, Rubies, Amethyst and Rock crystal and, to a lesser extent, diamonds.

In the middle of the 13th century, ring wear became such a symbol of rank in Europe that laws were introduced to regulate wear. gold and silver Rings set with precious jewels should be used by kings and nobles as well as base metals such as pewter, applies bronze and the Copper alloy were reserved for those of more common origins.

By the fifteenth century, settings had become more elaborate with a scalloped bezel surrounding the gem, with a flower-like outline often carried by more decorative shoulders. Designs like Scrollwork, leaves, flowers and dragons were embellished with Niello and enamel. Gemstones were chosen for their talismanic properties, not just for their intrinsic value and beauty, and it was believed that direct contact of the stone with the skin enhanced these medicinal or amuletic benefits.

Age-Gravure-Antique-Gold-Men's Ring

Antique rotogravure set of antique gold ring.

Signet rings were used extensively in the Middle Ages, and intaglios, carved by the ancient Roman and Greek artisans, were particularly valued to encourage a revival of the craft of Hard stone carving in the 13th century. Bezel and hoop were often engraved with the owner’s name and various phrases in Latin or French. By the 15th century, heraldic seals with coats of arms and other insignia were widely worn by those who were entitled to do so. There was a notable improvement that thwarted Crystal badge with a colorful coat of arms under the engraved crystal, which keeps the colors intact when pressed into wax.

In the Middle Ages, the flowering of chivalry and courtly love meant that rings of friendship and love were popularly inscribed with feelings of affection Posey ring, a gold hoop with a short poem, a “poetry” inscribed in either Latin or more typically French, the language of Romanticism, was a favorite. The poetry ring was decorated with simple enameled patterns of leaves, flowers and tears expressing tender feelings, and with phrases like have my cuer (You have my heart), all my heart (with all my heart) and Love all vinicit (Love conquers all).

Other popular mood rings at the time were the Gimmel ring (from the Latin Gemellus for twin) made of intertwined double or triple hoops, which represent the bonds of friendship and love, and the Jewish wedding ring, a richly enamelled and filigree gold ring, which sometimes contains miniature houses with symbols for the wedding house or the temple from represents Jerusalem. These rings were often reserved for symbolic purposes during the wedding ceremony.


Goldwork during the Renaissance reached a new level of craftsmanship and design. The jeweler’s bench was considered to be the best practice ground to achieve the level of detail and precision that distinguished the most successful artists of the era such as the painter and sculptor Donatello, the painter Botticelli and the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, who trained as a goldsmith. Sculpture and painting influenced jewelers, and rings were often decorated Arabesque motifs with sculptural shoulders of figurative and floral patterns and extravagantly enamelled in increasingly sophisticated techniques including In the round.

Another innovation was the hinge ring with compartments for scented materials, a particularly useful design to counteract the daily olfactory attacks of this time. For those who could afford them, colored stones remained popular, with ruby, sapphire, and emerald being the most desirable. Late Renaissance high fashion included elaborate ruffles, large padded sleeves and cuffs, and limited the shapes of jewelry that could be worn. Rings, on the other hand, were not burdened by this fashion and could be enjoyed freely.

Highly decorative signet rings from the Renaissance showed portrait intaglios of contemporary European rulers such as Henry VIII of England and Roman Emperors. You were very much appreciated. These were either re-carved by masterful artists or preserved from ancient times and set in highly sculptured and enameled settings. Heraldic signet rings were greatly appreciated as heirlooms depicting family lines and bloodlines. The Bloodstone was seen as a particularly suitable gemstone for this purpose and was brought into simpler, more functional settings. Signet rings with the marks of guilds or merchants were simpler and designed more for intensive use. Elaborately designed initial rings were also popular with the initials connected by knots or don’t forget me flowers and were sometimes given as wedding rings with intertwined initials of the fiancé.

Angel Cameo Antique Gold Ring

Early angel cameo in an antique mounting ring made of 18 carat yellow gold.

Love and friendship rings depicted Cupid with a bow and arrow, and more unusual was that of a deer eating dittany, an herb believed to heal wounds, including those caused by the arrow of love. The bouquet of flowers, with its inscriptions, remained increasingly popular, increasingly in Roman capitals, hidden within the band and used both as a token of love and as a wedding ring.

Memories of impending mortality have long been an issue in jewelry, especially rings. In ancient times, symbols such as skeletons, skulls and figures of cupid holding were often used. Mottos relating to the transience of life and its fleeting joys usually accompanied the images. The Middle Ages brought memento mori themes with an emphasis on living a just and moral life in anticipation of divine judgment. This continued into the Renaissance and the rings were decorated with coffins, skeletons, hourglasses and skulls, and the memento-mori themes were also used in signet rings.

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