Rings have been accompanying men since the day they learned to hold tools in their hands. The flow of time has influenced their appearance, the materials they are made of, and even their meaning but one thing has remained unchanged - men still cannot imagine their lives without these little items. In this post, we are going to try and systematize the reasons why the sterner sex wore rings in the past and why they continue doing so at present.
A ring is probably the most ‘natural’ type of jewelry. You can clearly see it if you take a look at kids – when playing, they like wrapping blades of grass or threads around their fingers. No matter of location, culture, and era, people naturally gravitated toward items they could wear on their fingers.
Unlike other pieces of jewelry, rings are so easy to use – one can easily put them on and take them off without outside assistance. If you have ever tried to put on a bracelet or necklace, you know that a helping hand is very much needed. Rings are always in plain sight and they don’t require any special styles of clothing. It is not always the case when it comes to other body ornaments – for instance, you need either a plunging neckline or a button-down shirt to display a necklace. On top of that, rings are easy to mix and match among themselves and with other trinkets. If you wish, you can wear a few pieces at the same time on the same of different fingers.
Because it’s almost impossible to hide a ring from the prying eyes (unless it is covered with gloves) rings became a sort of an identification mark. A signet or a gem-clad ring featuring engraving served as a personal seal and a means of verification for letters.
As you can see, rings are versatile, easy-to-wear, and functional. Speaking of functionality – you can learn more about it in our posts dedicated to the roles and functions inherent in rings. Because people could use their finger ornaments in so many ways, they became widespread among men and women alike. Whether you’re poor or rich, a commoner or a ruler, wearing a ring feels natural.
Ancient Rings and Their Meanings
It is impossible to determine who started wearing rings earlier: men or women. Archaeologists find hand jewelry in the burials of both. Wealthy deceased went to the other world sporting gold and silver rings; those who didn’t have enough money and power took their copper and brass rings to their graves. One of the most impressive antique jewelry collections was discovered in the burial of Pharaoh Psusennes I. The ancient Egyptian monarch took 36 rings to the kingdom of the dead. The most stunning pieces were adorned with blue lapis lazuli (a beloved gemstone in Ancient Egypt) and red carnelian.
Archeological excavations give us a clearer idea of how ancient ring looked and what was their age. One of the most ancient pieces that survived to this day were carved from a single piece of stone. During the Hellenistic period, the ancient Greeks learned to craft pretty intricate jewelry from metals. They already knew the value of precious metals so the most gorgeous pieces featured gold, silver, or alloys of both of them. That being said, the most magnificent and luxuriously embellished rings were made in the Byzantines during the heyday of the empire. A few priceless Byzantine rings manufactured during 6th-13th centuries take pride of place in museums across the globe.
Ancient Byzantine ring
Central Asian countries loved rings as much as ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds mined in India, Burma and Sri Lanka were distributed throughout the East. They became indispensable for jewelry worn by shahs, sultans, viziers, as well as noble and affluent people. Despite the fact that Islam does not welcome a deliberate display of wealth, Muslim men really enjoyed (and still do) wearing rings. In addition to wealth display, medieval Eastern (and not only Eastern) rulers often gave their rings to subjects to honor their heroic deeds or thank them for their faithful service.
Rings played a huge role in political intrigue in the Middle Ages. For instance, forged signet rings were used to falsify important correspondence. We can’t fail to mention secret compartment rings that featured poisonous substances. They were the favorite weapon of the Borgia family. In the old days, wealthy poisoners had their own trusted jewelers who crafted beautiful but deadly dangerous baubles.
Rings as a Token
Hundreds of years ago, men owned rings as a substitute for money. More precisely, rings became a universal measure for calculations. The money had the form of gold (silver, copper, iron, etc.) rings, the weight of which was specified on a special stamp. At the same time, fingers played the role of a handy wallet.
Rings featuring a special design were a sign of belonging to a wide variety of communities - from religious organizations to Masonic fraternities. The Egyptian priests and the followers of the Mithraic Mysteries (a cult of Mithra) had distinct rings. Even today the highest religious ranks utilize rings to showcase their role within the church. The example is pastoral rings worn by Catholic bishops, cardinals, and popes. According to the established tradition, papal rings are encrusted with diamonds, a ruby is set into a cardinal ring, and bishop rings sport amethysts.
The rings of high-ranking priests were symbols of spiritual (and oftentimes, secular) power. A ring with a seal or a crest handed by an overlord to a vassal meant the transfer of power or the right to speak on behalf of the suzerain. In societies where the majority of the population was almost completely illiterate, these rings became sort of identity cards and licenses.
Rings As an Attribute of Marriage
Despite the prominent role in religion and at the ruler’s courts, the most obvious function of the rings is the symbol of marriage. The betrothal by means of a ring transferred from the groom to the bride originates in the Jewish marriage ceremony called Chupah. In this rite, a groom puts a ring on a bride’s finger after he receives a rabbi’s blessing. At the same time, a rabbi must examine the ring to make sure it is made of gold and doesn’t feature any holes, hollows, or inlays. If he finds any flaw, he has the right to stop the wedding ceremony. In Chupah, a groom doesn’t receive a ring from his bride.
Christians have more liberal demands for wedding rings. Plus, to perform a wedding ceremony, a couple needs two rings: one is for a groom and the other for a bride. Wedding rings can be adorned with diamonds and basically any gemstone out there - a priest, unlike a rabbi, isn’t going to object any flight of fantasy. According to Orthodox traditions, wedding rings should be engraved with short prayers. People who are not so religious tend to engrave their initials and the date of a wedding on the ring’s interior.
An engagement ring – a piece a groom proposes with – became popular much later than wedding bands. More precisely, they first appeared at the end of the 19th century. It’s not a secret that we owe their occurrence and popularity to the marketing efforts of large jewelry manufacturers including Tiffany & Co., Graff, Harry Winston, etc. Their ads taught girls that no engagement is possible without a ring. After jewelers pulled off this trick, they had doubled the number of sold rings. And we got a new engagement-related tradition.
Rings As Amulets
A ring has always been a symbol of infinity. People gave this symbol a special, almost sacred significance. For our ancestors, silver rings became unconditional symbols of supreme power and served as potent amulets. Even to this day, in some Asian countries, women don’t start cooking without putting a silver ring on. No matter how weird it may seem, the tradition of wearing amulet rings starts reviving in modern megalopolises. Some people choose totem animals as their lucky charms, others pick rings with icons of saints or engraved prayers.
It’s hard to say when exactly people begin to wear rings as amulets but it wasn’t later than the first centuries of Christianity. Jewelers made amulet rings for the nobility back in Ancient Byzantium. As a rule, these ancient pieces featured the faces of saints. The same rings were used during wedding ceremonies so that the saints could patronage marriage and future children of the young spouses. A little later, protective inscriptions replaced images of saints. People firmly believed that these magic rings would protect them from evil forces that lie in wait every step of the way. It was only around the Middle Ages when rings turned from amulets to jewelry or items showcasing a social status of a person.
Why Men Flaunt Silver rings Today
Men had plenty of reasons (from religious to political) to wear silver rings in the past and they still do it today. But why? The reasoning is different but again, multi-dimensional.
Just like many years ago, jewelry made of precious metals is a way to showcase wealth and belonging to the highest stratum of society. You are right if you think that silver is not that expensive and hence, everyone can afford it. And if it is affordable for every person, then there is nothing special about wearing it. However, you can’t forget that the value of a certain piece is determined not only by the type and weight of precious metal but also by its design. Products made by renowned jewelry brands even if they feature inexpensive materials are always more expensive than top-tier metals forged by no-name jewelers. So let’s say you’re wearing a Cartier silver ring on one hand and a brandless gold ring on the other. Which one will speak of your prosperity? The former, of course.
The other indicator of ‘richness’ that may be inherent in a silver ring is precious stone inlays. Silver is a versatile metal and it looks beautiful with literally any gemstone. Still, when it is teamed up with clear or cold-colored jewels, it realizes its potential to the fullest. Therefore, you can often see clear diamonds, blue topazes or sapphires, green emeralds, and purple amethysts in a silver setting. Needless to say, precious stones dramatically increase the cost of any ring, and with the price comes a privileged status.
It is true that many guys wear rings to show off but that’s not the only reason. To this day, a special ring is an indicator of belonging to a certain community or group. For instance, a champion ring is awarded to athletes who win a major competition (such as Super Bowl in American football). A class ring is a way to commemorate graduation from a college or university. The most prominent, however, are rings worn by bikers and suchlike communities. It is unlikely that someone is rocking a champion or class ring every day but a ring given to a rider by his motorcycle club is almost sacred, it must stay on the finger all the time. Even in plain clothes, a biker remains a part of his motorcycle club, and a ring is a way to declare it.
Finally, rings still carry a sentimental meaning. A ring given by a beloved grandpa, a friend, or a late paramour isn’t a thing one would want to give up. No, we hold onto these things as keepsakes. They are reminders of people who made us happier, who made us who we are. One look at a ring evokes precious memories and makes it warmer in the chest. These items might not look that great, they might not cost a lot but it doesn’t matter because their sentimental meaning is priceless.
So, these are our random thoughts on reasons why men flaunt rings in general and silver rings in particular. If you’re in need of a stylish ring to assert your masculinity and boldness, Bikerringshop offers plenty of options. We deliver an extensive selection of biker, Gothic, tribal, rocker, and even classic rings for men. So don’t hesitate to check out our inventory. It never hurts to get yourself another ring, especially when we price our products so cheaply.