“Rings on her fingers, bells on her toes and a bone through her nose… oh ho!” The finger ring is something that has been around since the beginning of time. It may have all began in the cradle of civilization (Persia), otherwise known as the Babylonians, or the rings from the ancient Chinese dynasties. Then there are the Greeks, the Etruscans and we all know the Romans loved their rings as much as Liberace and Elvis did!
Pope’s, kings and queens and countless royal figures wore elaborate creations made by court appointed goldsmiths that are worth millions today. The rings incorporated huge diamonds and precious gemstones or large, rare pearls. Most importantly were heavy signet or seal rings that were used to stamp sealing wax to seal letters or declarations of great importance. Julius Caesar was known to seal all his decrees this way and questioning or ignoring them could result in the penalty of death to the disbeliever(s).
I have seen with my own eyes the rings the Holy Fathers wore on display at the Vatican in Rome – they area sight to behold. Also, many cathedrals throughout Europe have their own museums and display the adornments and especially rings of the high clergy and bishops of old.
Some of the world’s most stunning rings and jewelry are on display at the Louvre in Paris, France. I spent hours (much to the dismay of my wife!) in one room that displayed ancient Egyptian jewelry and then moved onto medieval times, Victorian, and 20th century Art Deco. I then cruised to the displays of the latest ultra-modern designs. This was all very exciting to me, incredibly boring for Andrea.
Back here in “paradise” I try to keep a large variety of rings in stock for ladies. Men’s rings not so much, at least in my neck of the woods; men’s rings are simply not that popular. I will on occasion do a made-to-order ring that is often a modern spin on the classic black onyx or star sapphire from decades ago. I’m currently in the process of designing a 1970’s retro men’s seven-stone diamond ring that was a classic back then. My experience with stocking men’s rings was all a negative experience; meaning bad business wise… if I had a hundred to choose from, it was never the one a guy would want. I prefer the ladies…they are so much easier to deal with and will eventually make up their minds with the wonderful selection on hand.
There is not a single day in the shop that I don’t either present, sell, polish, repair, re-set, re- size, or re-prong a ring… I’m surrounded with envelopes containing rings. Rings mean different things to everyone – it can signify an engagement that will soon result into two wedding bands and later possibly an anniversary ring.
Decades ago, rings were presented for lots of reasons. Colored birthstone rings containing the stone of the birth month of a daughter(s) were presented for communion or confirmation, bar or bat mitzvah. Graduating high school or college was another reason; these traditions have pretty much gone by the wayside these days.
Today they can be a gift from a loved one to another, or a simple feel-good purchase one buys for herself “just because”!
I have always proclaimed “be good to yourself, if no one else will!”
Richard Alan is an accomplished designer/goldsmith and has been Marco’s go to jeweler since 1994. He welcomes your questions and comments about All That Glitters. Visit his website at www.harborgoldsmith.com.