Of all the items of women’s jewellery, the ‘humble’ ring undoubtedly speaks most clearly to the heart of any woman. Rather than just being a beautiful adornment, many are symbolic of love and of promises made, and this has been the case throughout the centuries.
Through Biblical, Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman times, right up until the present day, the hands of women around the world have displayed not only their love and eternal commitment to another, but their wealth, their breeding and simply their personal taste.
Whether made from one of the precious metals such as gold, silver or platinum, or from plastic or even wood, a ring is almost always on show and is an important expression of yourself. Thankfully then, the enormous range of styles, colours and materials on offer means that you can find a ring which is as individual as you are. By way of introduction, here are some of the main types of rings that you will find available.
As the symbol of the betrothal of a man to a woman, and a piece of jewellery that will be worn for a lifetime, the choice of engagement ring is an important one. While it is traditionally believed that a man should spend twice his monthly wage on an engagement ring, this idea did in fact originate as a marketing ploy by one of the world’s biggest sellers of diamonds in the early part of the 20th century. Of course, some couples like to stick with this tradition and, in addition to the symbolism of the ring, view it as a financial investment. For others, however, the choice of ring comes down to nothing more than personal taste.
Although not exclusively the case, most engagement rings feature diamonds as their central stones, with solitaires, three-stone arrangements and clusters being the most popular choices. Non-diamond rings, however, have become increasingly popular over more recent years and these usually incorporate other precious stones such as sapphires and emeralds, or faux diamonds. Cubic zirconia, a crystalline form of zirconium dioxide, and moissanite, a rare mineral form of silicon carbide, are two of the most commonly available forms of faux diamond and of course represent a cheaper alternative to the real thing.
The band of an engagement ring can be found in a variety of metals, with gold and platinum being the most popular choices.
The tradition of exchanging a simple band of metal to symbolise marriage goes back many, many years, and even though many women still prefer to choose a plain gold or platinum wedding ring, the range available is considerably more extensive than this.
While plain wedding bands come in a variety of different metals, as well as a variety of widths, patterned wedding rings can be found in a huge selection of designs, many of which have been adopted from different countries and cultures around the world. From the interlocking bands of rose, white and yellow gold which go to make up the Russian wedding ring, to the puzzle rings of the Greeks and Turks and the often elaborate designs of the Celtic-style bands, the choice is practically endless.
Although of course the wedding ring will not normally be worn until some time later, many couples choose to buy an engagement ring and wedding ring at the same time in the form of a wedding set. These sets are designed so that both rings match perfectly in terms of the type of metal, colour, style and even shape.
Like the wedding ring, the endless loop of the eternity ring symbolises everlasting love. Although often given on the celebration of a wedding anniversary, there is, however, no precise occasion for the giving and receiving of an eternity ring and many times they are bought to celebrate the birth of a child or other significant event.
What makes an eternity ring so distinctive is the fact that the entire band is usually set with gemstones of the same cut and size. While diamonds tend to be the most frequent choice, rubies, sapphires and emeralds are also used, either exclusively, or combined alongside diamonds. Due to the style of the ring, the individual stones are typically, and by necessity, quite small.
In addition to full eternity rings, half-eternity rings are also a popular choice, largely because they are more practical. Instead of the stones continuing around the entire ring, they stop halfway around the finger and therefore tend to feel less bulky. Crossover and wishbone designs have also become more common over the years and, as with all styles of eternity ring, are available in a variety of metals and either precious or faux gemstones.
Originating from a fascinating history, most of us tend to think of modern day signet rings as rings which, although often carrying some kind of design or pattern, also feature a blank ‘plate’ on which to inscribe a monogram or the wearer’s initials. Most commonly produced in white or yellow gold, they can also be found in platinum and other metals, and are often given as gifts to loved ones.
Cocktail and Dress rings
The category of cocktail and dress rings basically encompasses rings which are quite simply worn for the purposes of adornment and, as you can imagine, hosts an enormous variety of styles, materials, designs and colours.
Cocktail rings, or dinner rings, first became popular during the 1940s and 1950s and were generally worn on the third finger of the right hand. Set with either precious or semiprecious stones, they are characterised by the fact that they are both large to the point of being oversized and showy.
While engagement, wedding, eternity and, in some cases, even signet rings are worn on a specific finger, dress rings are worn on any finger except, traditionally, the third finger of the left hand.
Whatever the occasion, whatever your budget and whatever your style, there is a ring out there which is as individual as you are.