Many stories, legends, and myths speak of the existence of the ring in ancient societies, which date back to as far as the Babylonians. Yet, there is no conclusive and direct information on how ancient peoples first started to wear rings and why.
The only physical evidence left by those who fancied this jewelry was the discovery of rings on the fingers of mummies and inside Greek urns. In ancient texts, we are told that early rings were made of various materials such as twigs, hemp, circular metals, stones, animal bones, and even hair strands.
Unlike any other kind of jewelry whose possession primarily signify wealth, rings were first and foremost a symbol of power. For a long time, the Egyptian pharaohs and kings took advantage of its unique shape and exploited its symbol of eternity to command absolute power on earth over their dominion. The ring was also given as gifts and as a form of currency in the business of the olden days. In more recent history, signet rings were invented but its wearer is limited to the nobles, ecclesiastical authority and the wealthy who utilized such rings to seal important documents.
In 17th century, Claddagh rings, named after a place in Ireland where the first ring of this kind was created, became the ring of choice to give as an engagement ring and eventually, marriage in Irish culture. But it soon spread beyond its shores and was adopted by many other cultures. Three elements feature a Claddagh ring design: a clasped hand, a heart and a crown. It is said to symbolize friendship, love and loyalty, respectively. The design endured and up to this day still enjoys a following.
But the most popular and most enduring symbol of the ring is love, marriage and commitment. The tradition of ring-giving related to the union of a man and woman can be traced back to the early Egyptians, but receiving a ring in this context means a woman is subject to the man’s authority and whim, as if his property. It was only in the modern times that the ring as a symbol of marriage evolved as an equal and heartfelt exchange of love and devotion between couples.
Apples of Gold has a wonderful collection of rings inspired by the bygone era. Check out the Celtic, Claddagh, Romanesque collections, as well as the wide array of wedding band designs to choose from.
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Category: Jewelry History