“During the Medieval period is when rings became popular. All classes of people wore rings from the poorest to the richest. Rings were typically made of iron, copper, silver, and gold. The material of the ring worn usually indicated the class of the wearer. It wasn’t until around the 14th century that faceted jewels appeared in rings.
Some cultures have rings typically associated with them. Cultures such as Native Americans use silver and turquoise in their jewelry. Early Christians used the Greek symbol, the Icthus, which resembles a fish.
One of the best known is the Irish Claddagh that also has an intriguing story attached to it. Richard Joyce was among the crew of a fishing boat from the village of Claddagh, Ireland that was captured, he was to have been married that very same week. During slavery Richard Joyce was put to the trade of Goldsmith-ing. Through the years of capture neither married. Richard Joyce created a ring for his love with a heart for love, a crown for loyalty, and two hands.
After Joyce escaped capture, he returned to the village of Claddagh and was overjoyed to see his love again and to know she had never married. She always knew he would return to her. He gave her the ring that has become known as the Claddagh ring. If the Claddagh is worn on the right hand with the crown inward (toward the wrist) the heart is not yet committed. If it is worn on the right hand with the crown turned outward the wearer is committed to someone. Finally if it is worn on the left hand with the crown outward it means “Let our love and friendship reign forever, never to be separated.”
Rings are worn for a variety of reasons including adornment. There are rings given as a reward for a job well done such as the Super Bowl victory.
They are given to represent commitment as in engagements and marriages. Women religious to signify their commitment to God also wear rings.
Rings can be made of almost any material now. They can be made from plastic, silver, gold, or copper, even wood. They can be made of ceramic materials as well. They can be of simple design or something as intricate as filigree.
They can be plain and simple or they can be adorned with jewels or gemstones, as in the case of birthstone rings. There is a birthstone for each month of the year and each has its own meaning.”
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